According to the coverage by the Nikkei and the Financial Times, Panasonic has sold all of its Tesla shares for US$3.6 billion in order to acquire the US software company Blue Yonder.
Panasonic bought 1.4 million Tesla shares in 2010 at a price of US$21.15/share that totalled to approximately US$30 million. The value rose to roughly US$731 million (approx. JP¥80.9 billion) in March 2020. As Tesla shares surged sixfold within a year, Panasonic made a net profit of roughly US$3.6 billion at the end of March 2021 (approx. JP¥400 billion).
The profit generated from the liquidation of the Tesla shares will contribute to Panasonic’s acquisition of Blue Yonder, which is estimated to cost US$7 billion. Blue Yonder is known for its development of AI forecast models and supply chain management solutions, which can offer added-value to Panasonic’s hardware products.
Panasonic emphasized in the statement released to foreign media that the liquidation of its shares in Tesla was implemented after a strategic review on the relevant shares was conducted according to the corporate governance code of the company. The company stressed that it will not impact the partnership between itself and Tesla.
Panasonic was once the only EV battery manufacturer for Tesla. However, in recent years, the latter company has been developing its own in-house batteries, and has been working with other manufacturers, such as LG Chem and CATL. Panasonic also recently commented that the company will reduce its dependency on Tesla, and will supply batteries for other global automotive manufacturers.
Nonetheless, Panasonic still hopes to play an essential role for the future of Tesla. It is currently establishing a prototype production line for the new 4680 lithium-ion battery that was recently presented. Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk hopes to offer a lower cost battery bundle with the incorporation of the 4680 battery, which would achieve the target of US$25K EVs within 3 years. Panasonic CEO Yuki Kusumi revealed to Bloomberg that the company will execute an extensive investment on the production of 4680 batteries upon the successful development of the production line.
(Cover photo source: Flickr/Don McCullough CC BY 2.0)