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Panasonic Considers US IPO for Blue Yonder Software Arm

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(Bloomberg) -- Panasonic Holdings Corp. said it plans a stock market listing for its supply-chain management arm, including the Blue Yonder business that it acquired for about $7 billion last year.

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Panasonic, which also makes consumer electronics and batteries for Tesla Inc., sees the listing as an effective way to accelerate growth in the supply-chain unit, making it easier to recruit staff and make acquisitions. It’s also part of a broader push to increase the independence of its operating businesses, it said.

Panasonic bought full control of the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Blue Yonder last year after taking a minority stake in 2020, in one of the largest acquisitions by a Japanese company recently. Blue Yonder, founded in 1985, makes supply-chain management software and uses artificial intelligence to predict product demand.

In a press conference after the announcement, Panasonic Chief Executive Officer Yuki Kusumi said he would consider taking the division public outside of Japan, perhaps in the US. He said the timing of the deal is difficult to predict, especially given recent tumult in global markets.

“It’s hard to say now when we would be able to list the company because we just started mulling the idea,” he said. “But we hope to move as fast as we can because we’re aware speed is important. What units would be included into the new entity is one of many factors we will be considering.”

A market listing would also be a way to reward and retain employees at Blue Yonder, which had already filed for its own IPO when Panasonic swooped in with the acquisition. At the time of the deal, Blue Yonder had more than 3,000 customers, including Best Buy Co., Coca-Cola Co. and Walmart Inc.

Panasonic announced the listing news after reporting earnings for the March quarter, including operating income that fell short of analyst estimates. It also forecast operating profit for the 2023 fiscal year that was shy of expectations.

CEO Kusumi said it’s unlikely the company would consider a similar spinoff for the battery business that supplies Tesla.

“We do not have any plans to list any other units of Panasonic, including the battery business,” he said.

(Updates with CEO comments from fourth paragraph)

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