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New Panasonic India chief seeks to double sales in 3 years

OSAKA -- Panasonic India President Manish Sharma aims to more than double sales in the country to 330 billion yen ($2.99 billion) over the next three years by bolstering infrastructure-related areas such as batteries and surveillance cameras.

     Sharma became Panasonic's first non-Japanese Asian executive officer Friday. The Japanese company has about 50 executive officers, five of whom come from outside the country. The appointment of Sharma, who hails from what Panasonic considers its most important emerging market, underscores Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga's efforts to tap foreigners for top positions.

     Panasonic India's growth strategy will center on three areas, especially energy, Sharma told The Nikkei. The company will build a new assembly line for mobile phone base station batteries at a factory outside New Delhi, expecting to churn out about 20,000 units in its first year.

     Because India suffers from frequent power outages, base stations often are equipped with backup power sources such as diesel generators. Since batteries would allow for more stable operation, demand likely will be brisk, Sharma said. He is targeting energy-related sales of around 110 billion yen in three years.

     Security systems using surveillance cameras, one of Panasonic India's strengths, will form another part of the growth strategy. The company will partner with Indian businesses to cultivate a customer base, aiming for about 22 billion yen in sales in three years.

     As for consumer products, Panasonic India will focus on smartphones, adding more products tailored to local needs in a bid to boost market share from roughly 3% to about 10% in three years.


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