Panasonic has sold its entire stake in Tesla. The firm had held a stake in the electric car brand since 2010 and has just sold all of its actions for a total of $ 3.6 billion. In eleven years, Panasonic’s investment has therefore earned it no less than $ 3.57 billion, whereas it had only bought for $ 30 million in 2010.
The information was shared by Nikkei and the Financial Times, before the CEO of Panasonic confirms and explains to Bloomberg the ins and outs. The brand wanted to reassure its intentions in public, speaking of a simple decision “Corporate governance”, and not a degradation in his relationship with Tesla. For the Californian manufacturer, it is reasonable to be concerned about this.
The importance of a Panasonic-Tesla agreement
To understand this, we must remember that Tesla and Panasonic do not only maintain relations on the stock market. Panasonic, in addition to owning shares in Tesla, has also been in the field with a long-standing partnership to produce batteries for the brand’s electric cars. A centerpiece, of which Panasonic was even the exclusive supplier.
In recent months, a few changes have taken place on either side. Tesla unveiled new battery technology at its “Battery Day” in September last year and hinted at its intention to become more independent in the manufacture of this component. On the Panasonic side, the new strategy is not to stay focused on Tesla: now, the brand is turning to other manufacturers to diversify its customers.
Future Tesla batteries will not automatically be produced by Tesla itself, but other suppliers could come into play. Tesla has already mentioned the names of LG Chem (Panasonic’s big competitor) as well as CATL. What to put pressure on Panasonic, to find other customers to be able to counterbalance, or to show itself more competitive to keep Tesla.
The arrival of 4680 cell batteries at Tesla, such as those presented during “Battery Day”, is supposed to mark a milestone and continue to make batteries more efficient and cars cheaper. Within 3 years, it is expected a model under $ 25,000 thanks to new technology, as Elon Musk indicated.
According to Yuki Kusumi, CEO of Panasonic, “a significant investment” is however expected within the framework of the new projects of Tesla batteries, which should reassure in the public relations. But the liquidation of shares finds another explanation. “The aim is to review stocks strategically held in accordance with corporate governance guidelines”, he declared to the Financial Times. “This does not affect the partnership with Tesla and we continue to have good relations”, he added.
Panasonic needs cash at the same time as the brand prepares for a major acquisition of an American company, for an amount of $ 7 billion. This is Blue Yonder, a company that specializes in supply chains operating through artificial intelligence programs.
On the side of Tesla, the operation can also be seen as a warning against the intentions of the manufacturer with the competing partners. Of course, Tesla did not lose any money immediately, but did lost one of its first shareholders, to the indispensable presence over the last decade for its batteries as an exclusive supplier.