Panasonic to Slash 15,000 Jobs, Shut Plants


Panasonic Corp., suffering its first annual loss in six years, announces it will eliminate about 15,000 jobs and close 27 plants worldwide, joining several other Japanese companies making deep cuts as they cope with the global slowdown.

Plunging consumer demand, lower prices for its products and the soaring yen, which erodes overseas income, are battering Panasonic, the world’s largest maker of plasma display TVs, according to news reports.

The Osaka-based manufacturer of cell phones, batteries, camcorders and other electronic goods slashed its forecast for the fiscal year through March to a net loss of $4.2 billion, its first annual net loss in six years, according to the Associated Press.

The planned job cuts at Panasonic – half of which will come in Japan – will come by the end of March 2010, and amount to about 5 percent of its 300,000-strong global work force, according to the Associated Press.

Panasonic also will shutter 14 overseas plants and 13 plants in Japan by the end of March to adjust production and cut costs. The company has 230 production sites around the world.

“The company’s business conditions have worsened particularly since last October, due mainly to the rapid appreciation of the yen, sluggish consumer spending worldwide and ever intensified price competition,” the company announced in a recent statement.

Panasonic is just the latest among Japan’s big-name companies to announce massive job cuts and forecast losses in coming months.

Rival Japanese manufacturer Sony Corp. is forecasting massive net losses for the fiscal year through March. The last and only time Sony reported a loss was in the fiscal year ending March 1995.

Sony is cutting 8,000 of its 185,000 jobs around the world, as well as an additional 8,000 temporary jobs not included in the global tally. It is closing five or six plants, which is about 10 percent of its 57 factories, according to the Associated Press.

Hitachi Ltd., NEC Corp. and Toshiba Corp. are also all forecasting big losses for the fiscal year.

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