OSAKA — Panasonic sold all its shareholdings in key battery customer Tesla last fiscal year, Nikkei learned Friday, in a move that likely earned the Japanese company billions of dollars to fund new strategic investments.
Panasonic will continue to supply electric-vehicle batteries to the American automaker. “Our relationship with Tesla as a business partner will not change going forward,” a Panasonic executive said.
All of the Tesla shares held by Panasonic were sold by the end of March. The gain likely accounts for much of the 429.9 billion yen ($3.88 billion) in “proceeds from sale and redemption of investments” in the company’s consolidated statements of cash flows for that fiscal year, up about 380 billion yen from the year before.
After signing its first supply contract with Tesla in 2009, Panasonic bought into the automaker in 2010, soon after its initial public offering on Nasdaq. The move gave Tesla valuable monetary support while marking a step forward for the expansion of Panasonic’s auto battery business.
The Japanese company bought roughly 1.4 million shares at $21.15 apiece. Its annual securities report for the year ended March 2020 put the market value of its stake at 81 billion yen, or $730 million.
Tesla’s price began skyrocketing in the spring of 2020, reaching $900 per share at one point — nine times its value at the end of that March after accounting for such factors as a stock split. Selling around these highs would have netted Panasonic billions of dollars.
The sale helps meet Panasonic’s growing appetite for capital. In addition to a $7.1 billion deal to buy U.S. supply chain software developer Blue Yonder, announced in April, the company continues to invest in growing its auto battery operations.