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Sony in talks for lithium-ion battery business integration

Sony Corp.’s troubled lithium-ion battery business may be integrated with a joint venture of Nissan Motor Co. and NEC Corp., under an initiative of a state-backed investment fund, sources said.

The lithium-ion battery is considered a homespun technology in Japan, as Sony commercialized the first battery of its kind in 1991. But overseas rivals have recently surpassed Japanese makers in terms of their share of the market for compact lithium-ion batteries used in personal computers and other products.

As Taiwan and Chinese makers have shown an interest in investing in Sony’s lithium-ion business, the investment fund Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) plans to reorganize the domestic industry. The fund intends to ensure technical expertise is retained domestically, according to the sources.

Currently, INCJ is favorably considering an integration between Sony’s subsidiary for its lithium-ion business and a battery firm established by a joint venture of Nissan and NEC, the sources said.

INCJ has been mediating talks between Sony Energy Devices Corp. and Nissan and NEC’s Automotive Energy Supply Corp., in hope of completing the integration by the end of fiscal 2013.
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