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Panasonic stays in TV business, chairman resigning

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 28, 2013 at 6:08 am •  Published: March 28, 2013

TOKYO (AP) — Panasonic's president said Thursday the company will persist with trying to fix its money-losing TV business, characterizing an exit from the fiercely competitive industry as a "final resort."

Panasonic also said Fumio Ohtsubo will step down as chairman in June ahead of schedule to take responsibility for the company's string of dismal financial results.

Company president Kazuhiro Tsuga promised to improve profitability over the next two years as he announced a business plan and strategy for the fiscal year that begins next month.

Osaka-based Panasonic Corp. is expecting a 765 billion yen ($8.1 billion) loss for the fiscal year ending this month.

That's close to the record red ink it reported for the previous fiscal year of 772 billion yen, which was among the biggest losses in Japan Inc. history.

Panasonic will target a 50 billion yen ($532 million) net profit for the fiscal year ending March next year, with hopes of reaching 350 billion yen ($3.7 billion) in operating profit two years later after eliminating unprofitable businesses and restructuring.

When asked about his decision to stick with TVs, Tsuga said the company will first try to stop the flow of red ink.

"To get out would be the final resort," he told reporters at the company's Tokyo office. "That possibility is not zero."

Japanese media reported last week that Panasonic may pull the plug on its plasma TV operations as part of a bigger plan to downsize its TV business.

The last few years have been tough for TV manufacturers and particularly those in Japan as the European debt crisis and a slow turnaround in the U.S. economy sapped demand for consumer electronics. The notable exceptions were smartphones and tablet computers. Japanese makers were also squeezed by competition from South Korean and Chinese manufacturers.

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