Olympus, the Japanese camera and medical equipment manufacturer that continues its struggle to stay afloat, is said to be reaching the final stages of a deal with Sony that will see a 50 billion yen (approx. $640 million) investment. Sources close to the deal say a final vote on the matter could be held as early as this month, and should it go through, Sony would be acquiring roughly a 12% stake in Olympus. Seeing as how Sony is in just as dire straights as the rest Japan’s electronic manufacturers, including Sharp, it’s interesting to see what Sony hopes to accomplish.
Desperate for cash while trying to recover from a huge financial scandal that has destroyed its reputation, Olympus was measured with a financial value of only 2.2%, far below the 10% that marks distress. With a quarterly earnings report due in November, Olympus is most likely eager to accept one of the several investment offers it has received over the last few months. In addition to Sony, talks were held with Panasonic, Terumo Corp., and even Fujifilm Holdings, however it’s seemed that Sony’s deal was the one Olympus has wanted the most.
The biggest benefit for Sony will be the access to Olympus’ medical equipment division, which is seen as a fairly strong business with a 70% dominance of the market for endoscopes. As Sony continues to be dragged down by its under-performing TV division, it has been looking to get into the medical device field with just such an advantage. Image sensors is another area where Sony does well, with Olympus already serving as a customer. Cooperation in the digital camera business may also lead to mutual benefits for the companies.[via WSJ]