Sony could be set to offload its Vaio PC business to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners after the firm refused to deny a report by local news service Nikkei that a ¥50 billon (£302m) deal is imminent.
The buyout firm would create a new company for Sony to sell its PC business to – for anywhere between ¥40-50bn. Under the putative plan Sony will apparently buy a small stake in the new firm, which will continue to sell Vaios and handle after-sales service.
It will also apparently keep operations in markets outside Japan where Vaio still has decent brand recognition, with many of the 1,000 employees Sony has working on PCs kept on either by the new company or transferred elsewhere within Sony.
The electronics giant’s Nagano facility may also be retained by the new company to house R&D and production, according to the report.
The latest rumours come just days after Sony was forced to quash speculation that the firm was in discussion about a sale to Lenovo.
At that time, Sony claimed “the press report on a possible PC business alliance between Sony and Lenovo is inaccurate”.
However, its response to the Nikkei story has been more ambiguous, leading many to speculate that this time there may be substance to the rumours.
The firm had this to say:
Sony has made no announcement in this regard. As Sony has announced previously, Sony continues to address various options for the PC business, but Sony has no further comments.
Japan Industrial Partners has already been busy this year, agreeing a deal with NEC last month to buy its BigLobe ISP business.
Under the terms of that deal, the buyout firm set up a "special purpose company" specifically for BigLobe, in a similar way to that being suggested in the Nikkei report. ®