Business, Hardware, Software Programs

Sony Rumored to Be Selling Their VAIO PC Division

On Tuesday, rumors started popping up on the Internet that Sony Corp was selling its money-losing PC business to an investment fund and will focus on smartphones, according to a Japan-based report.

Sony Corp stocks advanced the most in more than eight months in US trading after the Nikkei newspaper reported the company is in talks to sell its personal-computer business to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), a Tokyo-based private equity firm specializing in business restructuring.

On February 3, Sony denied a Nikkei report that it was discussing creating a venture for the PC unit with Lenovo Group.

The new entity would continue to sell PCs under the VAIO brand and also handle after-sales service. To facilitate the transfer, Sony will take only a small stake in the firm, which will try to solidify its business base at home.

Sources told Nikkei the sale price of Sony?s PC business is estimated at 40 billion yen to 50 billion yen ($391 million USD to $489 million). Sony’s PC business has a staff of roughly 1,000. Many of them, including executives, will be taken on by the new firm, but some others will be transferred to different departments within Sony. The parties are discussing having Sony’s PC site in Nagano Prefecture continue handling R&D and production under the new company. Misato Suzuki, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for the company, said Sony uses contract manufacturers in China to make VAIO notebook computers.

In August of 2012, JIP bought the mobile-phone retailing business run by Olympus Corp?s ITX unit for JPY53 billion ($676 million USD). Japan Industrial Partners specializes in turning around troubled firms and has taken part in restructuring Yamaha and JVC since its founding in 2002.

This is a very interesting rumor about Sony selling their VAIO PC division, because on January 30, it was announced there was an agreement to transfer all of NEC’s shares in NEC BIGLOBE- an NEC subsidiary which is the fourth largest ISP in Japan – to Japan Industrial Partners IV Investment Limited Partnership. Sources familiar with those negotiations say the transaction was around 70 billion yen ($666 million USD).

If the rumored takeover by JIP of Sony?s VAIO PC division are true, that would mean JIP has bought nearly a billion dollars in Japanese high tech companies in less than a month.

Everyone is waiting for an official announcement from Sony.