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story.lead_photo.caption Panasonic Corp.’s semiconductor operation in Nagaokakyo, Japan, is the last to be sold by the Japanese company.

TOKYO -- Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic Corp. is abandoning the semiconductor business with the sale of its last business in that sector to a Taiwanese company.

Panasonic said Thursday it was transferring the semiconductor business operated by Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions Co. to Nuvoton Technology Corp.

In recent years, Panasonic has sold its semiconductor plants in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Terms were not disclosed for Thursday's move, set to be completed next year.

On Nov. 21, Panasonic also announced its withdrawal from the liquid crystal panel business.

Panasonic's chipmaking has been struggling in recent years amid competition from cheaper rivals in South Korea and the rest of Asia.

Japanese media reports said the recent U.S.-China trade war, which has slowed sales in China, added to those pressures.

The move highlights Panasonic and other Japanese electronics makers' efforts to focus on more lucrative businesses.

"The competitive environment surrounding the semiconductor business has become extremely severe due to aggressive expansion of competitors, huge investments in the focused area and industry reorganization," Panasonic said in a statement.

The company said it believed Nuvoton appreciates the strengths of Panasonic's technology and will steer the business to stable growth.

Panasonic has also transferred another part of its semiconductor business to Japanese rival Rohm Co., scheduled to be completed this year.

In 1952, Panasonic forerunner Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. established a joint venture with Royal Philips of the Netherlands to enter the semiconductor business. Since the 1990s, the venture had grown to become Panasonic's major business in the manufacture of semiconductors for home appliances such as televisions.

In recent years, however, Panasonic's profitability has been eroded by the rise of South Korean and Taiwanese companies, which have become more competitive through large-scale investment.

There was a time when Japanese companies dominated the global semiconductor market. According to U.S. research company Gartner Inc., six of the top 10 companies in terms of global market share in 1990 were Japanese firms such as NEC Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita (now Panasonic), but they have largely been replaced by U.S. and South Korean companies.

Some Japanese companies remain in the business, including Toshiba Corp., Fujitsu and Sony Corp.

Information for this article was contributed by Yuri Kageyama of The Associated Press and by The Japan News.

Business on 11/30/2019

Print Headline: Firm sells last chip operation

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