In an announcement made Friday, Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) is all set to become the biggest shareholder in Olympus Corp (TYO:7733), with an investment of 50 billion yen, or $645 million. As per the deal, Sony will acquire an 11.5 percent stake in Olympus by buying new Olympus shares for 1,454 yen a share — a 4 percent discount to Friday’s closing price. Also, the two companies will set up a joint company by the end of the year, of which Sony will hold 51 percent and Olympus will hold 49 percent. Along with this, Sony will also appoint a director to serve on Olympus’ board.
In a win-win deal for both the companies, Sony will get an exposure in the lucrative medical equipment business, while the investment will help Olympus’s balance sheet, following its $1.7 billion accounting scandal.
Olympus, which controls about 70 percent of the world’s market for medical endoscopes, will form a joint venture with Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) to develop and manufacture endoscopes and other medical devices, as per the terms of the deal. Apart from this, the companies are also expected to cooperate in digital cameras.
The electronics giant, Sony, has been struggling with its slumping TV business, and has been posting losses for the last four years. To balance its operations, the company has been looking for new sources of revenue. As per Sony’s president, Kazuo Hirai, the medical business will be a major profit driver for the company in years to come. Sony entered the segment last year, after acquiring the American medical diagnostics firm, Micronics, for an undisclosed sum. Sony will position the medical field ‘‘as one of Sony’s future core businesses’’ Mr. Hirai said. Earlier this week, Standard & Poor, downgraded Sony’s long-term debt to BBB, the second-lowest investment grade, and warned of further downgrades unless Sony turns its business around.
Olympus, which admitted last year of hiding losses for over a decade to shore up its capital, replaced its entire board and restated five years of earnings. Apart from these measures, the company also took a $1.3 billion write-down.
In a statement released by, Hiroyuki Sasa, the Olympus president, and Mr. Hirai of Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE), both highlighted the fact that the deal will bring Sony’s technological edge in digital imaging to Olympus’ already-dominant position in the medical field. ‘‘By accepting an investment from Sony, we will not only strengthen our financial base, but also combine our strengths and develop the kind of medical devices that we may not have been able to develop on our own‘‘ Mr. Sasa said.
After the announcement, Olympus shares gained 1.7 percent to 1,520 yen in Tokyo on Friday. After the scandal last October, the company’s shares have lost nine-tenths of their value, but have now recovered almost half their pre-scandal levels. Sony’s shares, which are already down 34 percent this year, lost 1.1 percent to 919 yen.