Panasonic says to transfer Sanyo TV unit in US to Funai Electric

Men look at Panasonic's TV sets at an electronic shop in Tokyo February 3, 2012.

TOKYO - Panasonic Corp said it is transferring its Sanyo television unit in the US, which supplies sets to Wal-Mart Stores, to Funai Electric Co. of Japan in return for annual royalty payments.

The move allows Panasonic to exit an unprofitable business.

The transfer of the unit will likely be completed before the end of March, a spokesman for Panasonic said on Sunday, after the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported it would sell the business to Funai Electric.

Shedding the Sanyo business fits with Panasonic's strategy of pulling back for consumer electronics in a bid to improve profitability. The company is focusing on household appliance, automotive devices such as batteries, and other industrial components.

In the year that will end March 31, the unit expects to ships about 1 million Sanyo-branded sets - built in Mexico by China's TCL Corp - to Wal-Mart, generating sales of about 30 billion yen (S$353.47 million).

One year earlier, the unit sold 1.2 million sets.

Funai Electric is already a major supplier to Wal-Mart, selling it Philips and Emerson-branded televisions for the US retailer's stores.