Panasonic has just sold its entire stake in Tesla for about 400 billion yen (US$3.61 billion, or RM15 billion), as it seeks to reduce dependency on the American automaker and raise capital for growth investment, a company spokesperson told Reuters recently.

In 2010, Panasonic bought 1.4 million Tesla shares for about US$30 million (RM124.5 million), with each share priced at US$21.15 (RM88). That stake was worth US$730 million (RM3 billion) at the end of March 2020, but then rose exponentially – almost seven fold – to US$679.82 (RM2,822) apiece as of last Thursday (June 24).

Ace Research Institute analyst, Hideki Yasuda said: “The impact of crypto assets may have pushed Tesla’s share price above its intrinsic value, making it a good time to sell.” Panasonic’s shares closed up 4.9% the day after, its biggest move since January.

Panasonic stressed that the share sale is around “corporate governance” and has nothing to do with its purported rocky relationship with Tesla. The sale won’t affect the two companies’ relationship, even though Tesla announced that it is diversifying its own battery supply chain by partnering with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution and China’s CATL.

Panasonic also made it clear that it is planning to remain a major part of Tesla’s future. The company is setting up a prototype production line for Tesla’s new 4,680 lithium-ion cells, which Elon Musk hopes will allow for cheaper battery packs and, subsequently, the viability of making a US$25,000 (RM104k) electric car possible within three years.

The sale proceeds will help Panasonic pay for its US$7.1 billion (RM29.47 billion) acquisition of US AI supply chain specialist Blue Yonder. This will be its biggest acquisition in a decade, though the price raised the eyebrows of analysts who pointed to the firm’s spotty mergers and acquisitions (M&A) track record.