OSAKA -- Panasonic Holdings aims to set up a new supply chain management company and seek a stock market listing for it, the Japanese technology group said on Wednesday.
The new unit is expected to consist of businesses centered around U.S.-based Blue Yonder, a supply chain management company that Panasonic acquired in 2021 through an investment of 860 billion yen ($6.6 billion at current rates).
The spinoff move comes after Panasonic transitioned into a holding company in April. Panasonic would maintain a majority stake in the newly established company after it is listed.
Yuki Kusumi, CEO of Panasonic Holdings, told reporters that supply chain management is a fast-growing business and requires "timely management decisions."
Some analysts think the valuation of the new unit could reach 1 trillion yen. It has the potential to be the biggest initial public offering in Japan since 2018, when SoftBank Group listed SoftBank Corp. shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange at a valuation of 7 trillion yen.
Blue Yonder's supply management platform uses artificial intelligence to track products efficiently from factories to warehouses to stores. Its services help customers forecast demand to reduce overproduction, inventory backlogs and product shortages. The company has more than 3,000 customers worldwide, including such multinationals as Unilever.
Panasonic says Blue Yonder's services cut the time needed for collecting data on demand and other trends at one of its computer factories from about a week to just one or two hours.
The new unit also will incorporate Panasonic's own manufacturing know-how, which spans sensors and robotics.
Panasonic has identified supply chain efficiency a priority for growth alongside electric-vehicle batteries and air conditioning. The company plans to invest a total of 400 billion yen in these three areas over the next three years.
Proceeds from the listing would go toward expanding the supply chain management business.
Like Japanese peer Sony, Panasonic has shifted to a holding company structure in a bid to raise management and capital efficiency. Its supply chain-related businesses are now under subsidiary Panasonic Connect, led by Yasuyuki Higuchi, a former president of Microsoft Japan.
Panasonic's group net profit rose 55% to 255.3 billion yen in the year ended March, the company reported Wednesday. The Tesla supplier's EV battery business contributed to the growth. Panasonic is considering building a new EV battery plant in the U.S.