Sony to invest US$645 million in scandal-hit Olympus

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 4:45pm

Electronics giant Sony will invest 50 billion yen (US$645 million) in scandal-tainted Olympus, the firms said Friday, as they both look to turn the page on disastrous chapters.

The investment will make cash-bleeding Sony the single biggest shareholder in Olympus, with slightly more than 11 percent of its outstanding stock.

The companies will also establish a joint venture to develop endoscopes, with the focus on a type used in keyhole surgery, the statements said.

“At Sony we are aggressively pursuing the growth of our medical business, with the aim of developing it into a key pillar of our overall business portfolio,” said Sony president Kazuo Hirai in a statement.

“The business and capital alliances we have agreed with Olympus today will be integral to these plans,” he said.

Sony will take a 50 billion yen private placement of Olympus shares by the fiscal year-end for 1,454 yen a share.

The price represents a saving on Olympus’s shares on the open market, where they closed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange at 1,520 yen.

Olympus’s reputation was badly damaged after its British former chief executive, Michael Woodford, blew the whistle last year on an accounting scam that saw US$1.7 billion worth of losses moved off its balance sheet.

The camera-maker has since announced a major overhaul that includes cutting about seven percent of its workforce, while its new boss had publicly said he was seeking a capital injection to shore up the company’s finances.