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Panasonic Buys Zetes

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Panasonic acquires a majority stake in Belgian supply chain and mobility solutions company Zetes for €149.6 million.

The deal will see Panasonic first acquire a 50.95% stake in the company along with an agreement to acquire the remaining shares from other shareholders at €54.50 per share.

The acquisition is still awaiting regulatory approval but is expected to close by the second quarter of 2017.

Why is this important to you? First of all, it’s important you know the technological expertise that Panasonic is adding via this acquisition. Zetes, headquartered in Brussels and employing 1100 people across 21 countries, is known for its work in labelling print & apply, voice technology, printing, barcoding, vision, wireless networking and RFID. It’s a mobility company that can significantly improve supply chain and logistics across most industries.

Most people don’t realize Zetes is also the no. 1 voice solutions provider to EMEA industry. Their next-generation voice solution Zetes Medea Voice is used every day by more than 150,000 operators in more than 1500 projects. Yes…headsets & voice terminals used by industry instead of by offices.

And a wireless networking provider for infrastructure, mainly for industry…for the warehouses.

Zetes started life as what we used to call an auto ID and barcode provider. You can’t imagine a company whose business will be more disrupted by Internet of Things--or the opportunity that should come with this disruption.

Zetes Olympus

Panasonic showcased the IoT Era at the recent CEATEC JAPAN 2016. With various connected devices such as cameras and digital signage, Panasonic demonstrated their LinkRay (Light ID) solutions, shop window AR projection, store analysis AI solutions and more. What Panasonic wants to do in retail storefronts, Zetes is already doing for the retail backrooms.

The second reason to note this acquisition is that it continues the pattern of Panasonic’s current strategy: it is buying European companies that are one step closer to the market, to customers. Remember this article from earlier in the year…Panasonic Acquires UK’s Alan Dick Communications?

We can be so bold as to say the evidence suggests Panasonic could consider in the future buying an AV integrator if it demonstrated particular expertise in a vertical industry… or overall specialized expertise across many industries (for example, control rooms).

The trend in Japan is to move away from B2C, to avoid the Chinese influx, and to concentrate more on B2B. Panasonic is certainly embracing this.

Meanwhile, Zetes says it will continue to operate as its own brand with its existing management team remaining at the helm.

“In the future, we will be able to combine our identification and mobility solutions with Panasonic’s advanced research and development capabilities, global reach and technological expertise to better meet growing global customer needs,” says Zetes CEO Alain Wirtz.

“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with the majority shareholders of Zetes,” adds Panasonic’s Hiro Sakamoto. “Panasonic’s strategy is to become a leading logistics solutions provider globally and to expand the breadth and depth of services Panasonic is able to offer to its customers with Zetes’ excellent mobility solutions.”

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