February 7, 2014

Sony to sell PC business

Sony recently announced that it would sell its unprofitable personal computer division to Japan Industrial Partners. The Tokyo-based corporation also released its plan to turn its television business into a separate subsidiary. The restructuring will result in 5,000 cut jobs and save the company ¥100 billion ($998 million) a year. 

In a press conference, Sony's CEO Kazuo Hirai, said that he wanted the company to focus its resources and acquisition strategy on emerging areas like smartphones and video game consoles. He also said that the decision to sell to the PC unit was "agonizing." Sony plans to keep a 5 percent stake in the new company that will be formed after the sale. 

Japan Industrial Partners specializes in buying unwanted assets. It previously purchased assets from Japanese electronics companies like Olympus and NEC.

In a published statement, Japan Industrial Partners said that it "believes that with its support, the new company that will operate the Vaio-branded PC business will be able to achieve future growth and profitability and meet the expectations of Vaio customers by leveraging the wealth of innovative design expertise and operational know- how accumulated by Sony within the PC business."

Sony's decision to get out of the PC market is largely due to the rise of mobile devices. In 2013, PC shipments from all makers fell 10 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, Sony's share of sales slipped from 2.1 to 1.9 percent. It is currently the world's ninth-largest makers of laptop and desktop computers. 

The deal with Japan Industrial Partners is Sony's second foray in major restructuring in recent years. In 2001, it set up a partnership with Swedish tech company Ericsson, but bought out Ericsson's stake in 2012.