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Panasonic may cut mobile unit, post writedown: sources

People visit Panasonic Corp's booth at CEATEC JAPAN 2012 electronics show in Chiba, east of Tokyo, October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
People visit Panasonic Corp's booth at CEATEC JAPAN 2012 electronics show in Chiba, east of Tokyo, October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

TOKYO (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp may shrink its mobile phone unit by withdrawing from Europe within six months, prompting a possible writedown on the business in the year ending next March 31, two sources told Reuters.

Panasonic's new boss, Kazuhiro Tsuga, has pledged to revive the company by cutting money-losing or barely profitable businesses. He has said he will announce a restructuring plan by the end of March.

The company has as much as 70 billion yen ($873 million) of goodwill on its mobile phone business, according to analysts' estimates, after the 2002 purchase of Matsushita Telecommunications. Writing off part or all of that would add to 41 billion yen of restructuring costs already planned for this business year.

The Japanese company, which stopped sales of mobile phones overseas in 2005, returned to Europe in April with a plan to sell 1.5 million smartphones this business year. Panasonic said in December it wanted to increase global mobile phone sales to 15 million by March 2016 including 9 million overseas.

That target is unlikely to be reached, the sources said on condition they were not identified.

Panasonic, which is forecasting an annual operating profit of 260 billion yen, will release results for the quarter ended on September 30 on Wednesday.

($1 = 80.1650 Japanese yen)

(This version of the story corrects to say Matsushita Telecommunications from Panasonic Electric Works in third paragraph.)

(Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by Michael Watson)

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