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Business Deals

Pioneer announces share sale to Hong Kong investment firm

Baring Private Equity Asia to buy up to $538m stake in Japanese electronics maker

Pioneer is in tie-up talks with potential partners as it seeks to catch up with the rapidly changing automotive electronics business.

Struggling Japanese consumer electronics maker Pioneer on Wednesday announced plans to sell up to 60 billion yen ($538 million) in equity to Hong Kong-based investment firm Baring Private Equity Asia, in a bid to revive its struggling car equipment business.

Once a leading maker of car navigation and audio systems, Pioneer has struggled to adapt to the smartphone era. It has been scaling down its consumer electronic business while seeking new opportunities in areas like autonomous driving, but faced a late September repayment deadline for bank loans.

Pioneer said BPEA will initially give a 25 billion yen loan on Sept. 18. It will then sell 50-60 billion yen worth of shares by the end of the year. Some of the proceeds will be used to pay back the loan, it said. The share sale is subject to shareholder approval.

Pioneer's shares rose on Wednesday morning after Nikkei first reported the deal, but fell more than 10% after the announcement. The company has a market capitalization of around 45 billion yen, indicating that BPEA may take a controlling stake. Mitsubishi Electric is currently the top shareholder, holding about 7%.

BPEA declined to comment.

Pioneer said it plans to maintain its brand and relationships with customers.

Wataru Suzuki

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