(Dec 5): Japan's Panasonic Corp is in the final stages of talks to buy European automotive light maker ZKW Group for up to US$1 billion ($1.4 billion), accelerating its push into the automotive electronics market, the Nikkei business daily reported Monday.

The two companies could reach a basic agreement as early as this month, the Nikkei said.

Privately held ZKW supplies light-emitting diode headlights and lighting modules to US and European automakers such as General Motors Co and BMW. It forecasts sales of about 900 million euros ($1.35 billion) in 2016.

Panasonic said in a statement the reported deal was not something it had announced, adding it does not comment on individual deals.

The company is reinventing itself as a provider of auto parts and energy-saving home systems to escape the price competition of smartphones and lower-margin consumer products.

An acquisition of ZKW would expand its automotive lineup, which currently centers on batteries and navigation systems.

Last year Panasonic took a 49% stake in Spanish automotive mirror manufacturer Ficosa International and plans to contribute US$1.6 billion to Tesla Motors' US$5 billion battery factory.

The possible deal comes at a time when rival electronics makers are also making a major push into the automotive industry. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed in November to buy Harman International Industries in an US$8 billion deal.