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Panasonic unloads entire Tesla stake

Exclusive: Japanese electronics company says relationship "will not change"

Panasonic generated hefty proceeds from the sale of its Tesla holdings.    © Reuters

OSAKA -- Panasonic sold its entire stake in key battery customer Tesla -- a holding worth around 400 billion yen ($3.6 billion) -- last fiscal year, Nikkei learned Friday.

The move gives the Japanese company billions of dollars to fund new strategic investments, such as the $7.1 billion purchase of U.S. software company Blue Yonder.

Panasonic has notified Tesla about the share sale and will continue to supply electric-vehicle batteries to the U.S. automaker. "Our relationship with Tesla as a business partner will not change going forward," a Panasonic executive said.

After Nikkei reported the stock sale on Friday morning, Panasonic's share price jumped 4.53% in the morning session.

After signing its first supply contract with Tesla in 2009, Panasonic bought into the automaker in 2010, soon after its initial public offering on the Nasdaq exchange. The move gave Tesla valuable financial support while marking a step forward for the expansion of Panasonic's auto battery business.

The Japanese company bought roughly 1.4 million shares at $21.15 apiece. Its annual securities report for the year ended March 2020 put the market value of its stake at 81 billion yen, or $730 million.

Tesla's price began skyrocketing in the spring of 2020, reaching $900 per share in January 2021 -- nine times its value at the end of March 2020 after accounting for a stock split.

The sale helps meet Panasonic's growing appetite for capital. In addition to a $7.1 billion deal to buy U.S. supply chain software developer Blue Yonder, announced in April, the company continues to invest in growing its auto battery operations.

All of the Tesla shares held by Panasonic were sold by the end of March. The gain accounted for much of the 429.9 billion yen ($3.88 billion) in "proceeds from sale and redemption of investments" in the company's consolidated statements of cash flows for that fiscal year, up about 380 billion yen from the year before.

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