FTC Requests Public Comment on Panasonic’s Application to Approve Sale of Assets It Uses to Manufacture Portable Sub-C Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

The Federal Trade Commission is currently accepting public comments on an application by Panasonic Corporation for approval to sell to FDK Corporation assets from Panasonic’s facility in Suzhou, China that are used to manufacture sub-C portable nickel metal hydride (“NiMH”) batteries. The FTC’s November 2009 order, settling charges that Panasonic’s $9 billion acquisition of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. was anticompetitive, required Panasonic to divest a battery production plant to FDK, and requires that Panasonic obtain the prior approval of the Commission for a sale of its Suzhou NiMH assets to FDK.

The merger of Panasonic and Sanyo combined the world’s two largest manufacturers and sellers of portable nickel metal hydride batteries, including Sub-C batteries, which are used by police and fire departments nationwide. To resolve the Commission’s competitive concerns, Sanyo divested its NiMH production facility in Takasaki, Japan to Commission-approved acquirer FDK. Sanyo produced all of its NiMH batteries in the Takasaki plant except sub-C and D batteries. These batteries, along with other Sanyo products, were manufactured at Sanyo’s facility in Suzhou, China. To remedy the competitive concerns in sub-C batteries, Panasonic/Sanyo agreed to supply FDK with 100% of the NiMH battery production from the Suzhou plant.

The Order also prohibited Panasonic from selling or granting any additional rights or assets related to Sub-C and D NiMH batteries to FDK without the prior approval of the Commission. Panasonic and FDK have now entered into a sales agreement through which, subject to FTC approval, FDK will acquire assets from the Suzhou facility to enable FDK to manufacture Sub-C NiHM batteries at FDK’s own facility. If this transaction is approved by the Commission, the Suzhou facility will no longer produce NiMH batteries and the Suzhou Sub-C and D NiMH Battery Production requirement under the order will end.

The Commission will decide whether to approve the proposed divestiture after expiration of a 30-day public comment period. Public comments may be submitted until June 23, 2015. Written comments should be sent to: FTC Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Comments can also be filed electronically. Copies of the application can be found on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. 091 0050, Docket No. C-4274; the staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2526)

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to antitrust{at}ftc{dot}gov, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Room CC-5422, Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read Competition Counts. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.