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Japan's Panasonic to sell chip plants to Israeli firm

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Japan's Panasonic is nearing a deal to sell three domestic semiconductor plants to an Israeli company as it presses ahead with a move to cut money-losing operations, a report said Wednesday.

The electronics giant's shares jumped 3.90 percent to 1,172 yen in afternoon Tokyo trade after the Nikkei business daily said it would sell majority stakes in the three factories to chipmaker TowerJazz.

The deal's price tag would be determined later, it added.

Most of the plants' 2,500 workers will stay on after the agreement, with other members of staff transferred to different divisions within Panasonic, the Nikkei said.

The deal could reportedly be finalised in the fiscal year to March 2014.

Panasonic is also in talks to sell full or partial stakes in overseas chip-assembly plants to a Singaporean company, including factories in China, Indonesia and Malaysia, the leading Japanese business daily said.

The tie-up with Nasdaq-listed TowerJazz would provide Panasonic with fresh capital while expanding the plants' customer base and boosting production, the Nikkei said.

In response, Panasonic said "we are making various studies on our semiconductor business strategy but nothing has been decided at the moment".

Panasonic is undergoing a huge restructuring aimed at repairing its balance sheet after two consecutive years of record losses.

It has already decided to pull out of the consumer smartphone business in Japan and plasma televisions.

The firm recently doubled its net profit forecast for the current fiscal year through March to 100 billion yen ($985 million).

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131127/japans-panasonic-sell-chip-plants-israeli-firm