UPDATE 1-M'shita to spend $951 mln for battery plant-media

Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:15am BST

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TOKYO, July 17 (Reuters) - Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd (6752.T) will invest more than 100 billion yen ($951 million) to build a lithium-ion battery plant in Japan to meet robust demand, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Thursday.

Matsushita would be able to roughly triple its lithium-ion battery output capacity in what would be one of the world's biggest lithium-ion battery factories, the paper said.

The Japanese consumer electronics maker aims to start operating the new plant as early as 2010, the paper said.

Matsushita spokesman Akira Kadota said that the company was considering various possibilities for the growth strategy of its electronics business but that nothing had been decided.

Matsushita, which competes with Sanyo Electric Co Ltd 6764.T and Sony Corp (6758.T) in the rechargeable battery industry, aims to meet growing lithium-ion battery demand as global sales of battery-run mobile gear such as cellphones, digital cameras and laptop PCs expand.

Demand for batteries for electric vehicles is also on the rise as consumers increasingly opt for clean-air cars amid skyrocketing oil prices.

Shares of Matsushita added 0.9 percent to 2,225 yen as of 0009 GMT, in line with a rise in the benchmark Nikkei average .N225. (Reporting by Aiko Hayashi; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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