* Panasonic aims to sell part of healthcare unit
* Deal seen worth $1.5 bln -sources
* Bain consortium, Toshiba had also bid -sources
* Panasonic selling assets to boost cash after big losses
By Reiji Murai
TOKYO, Sept 6 Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co
is set to gain preferential negotiating rights for a
majority stake in Panasonic Corp's healthcare unit,
sources familiar with the matter said, a potential $1.5 billion
deal that would mark the U.S. firm's largest investment in a
An agreement would be in line with KKR's plans to invest
further in Japan after recently raising a $6 billion Asia fund,
the biggest ever in Asia for a private equity firm.
It would also help Panasonic which is selling assets after
posting a combined $15 billion in losses in the last two
Toshiba Corp, and a consortium that included U.S.
investment fund Bain Capital, Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co
Ltd and the Development Bank of Japan were also bidding
for the healthcare unit, sources have previously said.
Those sources had valued the sale of shares in the unit,
which makes blood sugar monitoring equipment and electronic
medical record-keeping systems, at around $1.5 billion. The
sources have not disclosed the precise size of the stake under
In the financial year ended in March, the unit made 8.7
billion yen ($87 million) in operating income on 134.3 billion
yen in sales, giving it an operating profit margin of 6.5
KKR's advance was first reported on Friday by the Nikkei
business newspaper, which said Panasonic aims to reach an
agreement before the end of this month.
KKR last year sought to buy a controlling stake in Japanese
chip maker Renesas Electronics Corp but lost out to a
group led by the state-backed Innovation Network Corp of Japan.