Panasonic Corp said on Friday it would launch a smartphone in Europe in March, the first step of a global rollout targeting 15 million unit sales worldwide in the year to March 2016, nine million of them overseas.

The move comes about five years after the company pulled out of the international mobile phone market due to harsh competition. Panasonic's mobile phone sales reached their peak in 2003 at 8.9 million units.

The company also unveiled a new Android model developed specially for overseas sales. The phone, featuring a 4.3-inch OLED screen, will be manufactured at an existing factory in Malaysia, where phones for the domestic market are already made.

(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)