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Panasonic to invest B6bn over three years


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Extracted from the Bangkok Post




Panasonic Group of Thailand, part of the Japanese conglomerate Matsushita Electric Industrial, plans to invest six billion baht over the next three years. The investment budget is unchanged from Panasonic's last three-year plan, and comes despite market uncertainties over government plans to overhaul the Foreign Business Act and security worries.


Daizo Ito, the president of Panasonic Group of Thailand, said the New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok had not affected the company's investment confidence because there were more favourable factors to its business. They include demand in the local appliance market, national infrastructure, Bangkok's new airport and Thailand's geographic location.


Mr Ito said the company would ask for investment approval from its Asian headquarters during the annual meeting in Singapore today before finalising its plans with its parent company in Japan.


''It is only tax incentives that Thailand should improve to become better than Singapore and Malaysia,'' he said, adding that in his opinion, Vietnam was another attractive market because of its 85-million population and because it was now a member of the World Trade Organisation.


Mr Ito said the estimated six-billion-baht budget was set to boost total sales in Thailand to reach 100 billion baht in the 2009 fiscal year ending in March 2010.


Matsushita Electric Industrial president Fumio Ohtsubo said the group expected worldwide sales of 10 trillion yen, with operating profit of 10%, and global top-share product sales accounting for 30%, in the next three years. Of the total 10 trillion yen, about 60% is expected to come from markets outside of Japan.


The group's 19 Thailand-based manufacturers and affiliated sales firms are expected to generate 5% of overseas sales.


Mr Ito said the investment budget would pay for expansion of production capacity, and marketing for its three-year plan that started this year.


To achieve its goal, the company will increase its export proportion to 78% in that period, up from 67% at present. More home-appliance products, LCD TVs, parts and car-audio equipment will be exported to more than 20 countries.


Other strategies include regionally tailored marketing, improving product competitiveness and brand building.


In Thailand, Mr Ito said the company aimed to maintain its leadership in the TV market this year and to take the lead in the refrigerator and washing-machine segments next year.The company plans to increase its market share for air conditioners to 25% next year from 21% now.


''We want our products to become leaders in the domestic market. Thailand is the world's most competitive market. If we cannot win against our competitors in Thailand, we cannot win in the world market,'' said Mr Ito.

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