Panasonic mulling providing Leica with high-end digital cameras

Panasonic Corp. is considering boosting its business partnership with Leica Camera AG and supplying the German camera maker with high-end digital cameras, as it looks to shore up its flagging digital camera business, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The struggling Japanese electronics maker will likely start providing interchangeable-lens models with retail prices of around 200,000 yen on an original equipment manufacturer basis as early as next year, the sources added.

Panasonic has decided to reduce production of struggling low-end compact cameras and is now shifting its focus to mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras and high-end interchangeable-lens models to improve its profitability.

Panasonic's forerunner company Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Leica started collaborating in development and production of digital cameras in 2001. Panasonic is supplying compact digital cameras sold for 100,000 yen or less to Leica on an OEM basis. The two firms also jointly develop lenses.