No big changes as Panasonic Automotive Systems sells majority stake to Apollo Global Management

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Panasonic Automotive Systems in Peachtree City on Oct. 13, 2020 received the Ga. Department of Economic Development GEAR Award for Automotive Innovation. Officials at the presentation included, from left, CHRO Stephen Childs, Pres. Scott Kirchner, Engineering VP Mark Thornton, Product Planning VP Andrew Poliak, Ga. Department of Economic Development Dep. Commissioner Scott McMurray and Fayette County Development Authority Chairman Darryl Hicks. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Panasonic Automotive Systems in Peachtree City on Oct. 13, 2020 received the Ga. Department of Economic Development GEAR Award for Automotive Innovation. Officials at the presentation included, from left, CHRO Stephen Childs, Pres. Scott Kirchner, Engineering VP Mark Thornton, Product Planning VP Andrew Poliak, Ga. Department of Economic Development Dep. Commissioner Scott McMurray and Fayette County Development Authority Chairman Darryl Hicks. Photo/Ben Nelms.

UPDATED — Don’t expect any closings, layoffs, or other big changes at Panasonic Automotive System headquarters in Peachtree City or anywhere else in the division as a result of the sale of a majority stake in the company to a private equity fund. So says a news release from Panasonic US headquarters.

Here’s what the company says in a Nov. 27 news release:

“• There is no current discussion about closing any of our Panasonic Automotive facilities or leaving the Peachtree City area.

“• Peachtree City is home to our North American Panasonic Automotive headquarters.

“• The scope of this transaction is not yet fixed, and it will be determined based on further discussions. Any recent figures disclosed were not the result of an announcement by Panasonic.

“• We do not expect any layoffs due to this deal.

“• Business operations will continue as is.”

Panasonic Holdings Corporation (PHD) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Apollo, a global alternative asset manager, to become joint partners in the automotive business segment, the news release said.

“The automotive industry is currently undergoing a once-in-a-century paradigm shift as we transition to electrification and software defined vehicles. Our automotive business is well-positioned for this shift, but to ensure our continued success and further strengthen our business we have determined it is in our best interest to leverage external resources through our partnership with Apollo,” according to the company news release.

“As we progress through this transition, it is our top priority to maintain relationships with current customers, suppliers, stakeholders and community partners,” the release said.

“The company name, brand and structure that you know will remain as it is today for the foreseeable future. We do not anticipate reducing our workforce or making any changes to our current office locations as a result of this announcement,” the US headquarters news release said.

The company said it anticipates reaching a definitive agreement in March of 2024 and will continue to share updates as warranted. 

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EARLIER STORY (Nov. 27)

Panasonic Automotive Systems has been sold to a private equity fund, and changes are on the horizon.

Panasonic has sold a majority stake in automotive systems unit to the US fund, after announcing its intentions Nov. 19.

Japan’s Panasonic Holdings says it has reached a basic agreement to sell a majority of its stake in an automotive systems unit to a US private equity firm.

The electronics giant is realigning its operations to focus on making batteries for electric vehicles, but that shift is unlikely to involve the Peachtree City headquarters.

Under the deal, funds managed by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management will acquire a stake in Panasonic Automotive Systems.

Talks are said to be underway to sell a stake of 50 to 80 percent to the US equity firm, with the aim of finalizing an agreement by the end of March next year. No purchase price has been announced yet.

Panasonic Automotive, which produces electronic parts and systems for cars, is wholly owned by Panasonic Holdings. Its headquarters is in Peachtree City. It has a global workforce of around 30,000.

Locally, the plant on Ga. Highway 74 South has had a workforce in the past of several hundred people, but that number has gone down in recent years.

Shares of Japan’s Panasonic Holdings have rallied about 10% since it announced the plan to sell a stake in its automotive systems business and the unit’s potential listing raised broader restructuring hopes.

The company wants to sell a stake in the unit to Apollo Global Management-run funds.

Analysts said Panasonic could be following in the footsteps of another conglomerate, Hitachi which in recent years sold off several businesses to transform into a digitally driven service firm.

One analyst said Panasonic needs to adjust nimbly as it faces disruption from competition in traditional areas of growth.

Investors reacted positively to the potential sale of the stake in the automotive unit, which makes cockpit and electronics systems. The announcement was both unexpected and welcomed, as investors had not foreseen Panasonic setting out on a course to trim its portfolio at this time.

Panasonic’s automotive unit is separate from its energy unit that makes batteries for electric vehicles, including those from Tesla.