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Toshiba in talks to sell image sensor business to Sony: Nikkei

Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 10:57
Toshiba Corp.jpg
Toshiba Corp is in late-stage talks to sell its image sensor business to Sony Corp. in a deal valued at about 20 billion yen (S$230 million), the Nikkei newspaper reported.

[TOKYO] Toshiba Corp is in late-stage talks to sell its image sensor business to Sony Corp. in a deal valued at about 20 billion yen (S$230 million), the Nikkei newspaper reported.

The Japanese industrial conglomerate is selling assets to raise cash after accounting irregularities cut about US$1.3 billion off profit reported over almost seven years. The image censor plant is its newest chip production facility, Nikkei reported Saturday, without saying where it got the information.

Sony has taken the lead in global market share chips smartphones and cameras use to capture and digitize photos. The company is already quadrupling spending on semiconductors this year to 290 billion yen to meet demand for the sensors from customers including Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

Calls to Toshiba and Sony in Tokyo on Saturday were not answered.

Sony controlled about 40 per cent of the US$8.7 billion image sensor market last year, compared with about 16 per cent for its next biggest competitor, Techno System Research estimates. The market is forecast to climb to about US$12 billion by 2019, and the company expects its sales to climb as much as 62 per cent to 1.5 trillion yen in three years.

A Japan Inc stalwart, Toshiba makes everything from nuclear power plants to laptop computers and memory chips. In September, the company sold its stake in medical equipment maker Topcon Corp in a 49 billion yen deal for a gain of about 30 billion yen.

Job Cuts Also in September, Toshiba agreed to sell a 30 per cent stake in a building it owns for 37 billion yen and prior to that sold its 4.6 per cent stake in Finnish elevator and escalator maker Kone Oyj, for a gain of about 113 billion yen.

Separately, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Toshiba will announce the image sensor business sale to Sony next week and that the company may reduce its workforce within Japan by a few thousand people.

Masashi Muromachi, the company's president, in September pledged to prune underperforming businesses, including workforce reductions in appliances, personal computers, televisions and semiconductors.

Toshiba had about 198,700 employees as of March 31, the lowest since at least 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

About 491 billion yen of Toshiba's market value has vanished since the company withdrew its earnings forecast in May and announced an accounting probe that was later expanded. The Tokyo Stock Exchange has fined the conglomerate 91 million yen for the profit misstatements.

BLOOMBERG