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Panasonic Got Rid of All of Its Tesla Shares Last Fiscal Year

After it signed its first battery supply deal with Tesla, Panasonic bought about 1.4 million shares when the American EV maker started negotiating them at NASDAQ, in 2010. Each one would have cost $21.15, which translated into $29.61 million. Nikkei Asia revealed that Panasonic got rid of all its remaining shares in Tesla by the end of March – when the remaining stake corresponded to 81 billion yen, or $730 million.
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Panasonic now follows a former Tesla executive, Jérôme Guillen, who also dumped $274 million in Tesla shares just days after officially leaving the company. Just like in Guillen’s case, the stock market has seen the move as a sign of a lack of trust in Tesla’s management. The rationale is that no one would sell shares if they thought they could still appreciate.

The official excuse from Panasonic is that the company is pursuing new investment strategies. Recently, it bought the supply chain software developer Blue Yonder for $7.1 billion. The extra cash would help it fund these new needs.

Panasonic was quick to say that its relationship with Tesla will not change going forward, but it already has. The Japanese supplier probably had a different approach with Tesla while it was a stakeholder. Now that it no longer has Tesla shares, it is just another supplier, even if a big one, especially in the US.

Tesla supporters recently celebrated that Panasonic would heavily invest in producing the 4680 cells unveiled by the American EV maker at the Tesla Battery Day. However, what Panasonic really said is that it will evaluate them, installing equipment for prototype production in its Japan battery plant in April 2022.

By detaching from Tesla, Panasonic may have an eye on other carmakers willing to produce electric cars. It is not unlikely that they saw the Japanese supplier as a Tesla partner instead of just another cell producer like CATL or SK Innovation. Now that Panasonic made some cash getting rid of Tesla shares, it may sound like a more neutral option for the rest of the automotive industry.


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