Sony exits PC business; sells Vaio unit to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners

As reported by Nikkei yesterday, Sony has sold off its Vaio PC business to a Japanese investment fund. The company had been in discussions with Japan Industrial Partners after rumours of Lenovo looking to form an alliance with Sony for the PC business emerged. As PC makers struggled in an increasingly smartphone-driven world, consolidations were expected, but Sony has preferred to go with an investment fund instead of a rival PC maker in offloading the Vaio PC business.


Sony released a statement announcing the deal, according to a report in CNET. “Following a comprehensive analysis of factors, including the drastic changes in the global PC industry, Sony's overall business portfolio and strategy, the need for continued support of Sony's valued VAIO customers, and future employment opportunities for personnel involved in the VAIO business, the Company has determined that concentrating its mobile product lineup on smartphones and tablets and transferring its PC business to a new company established by JIP is the optimal solution,” the statement read.


As was expected in 2013, global PC shipments fell though the 10 percent decline brought the figures to 2009 levels. 2013 started off on a bad note for PC makers and by the end of the year, it was proved to be the worst decline ever in the industry.


“Sony and JIP will now proceed with due diligence and negotiate detailed terms and conditions of the business transfer, targeting the conclusion of a definitive agreement by the end of March 2014. Following reevaluation of the product lineup, the new company is expected initially to concentrate on sales of consumer and corporate PCs in the Japanese market and seek to optimize its sales channels and scale of operations, while evaluating possible further geographic expansion,” the statement continued.


What this deal means is that Sony will stop all development of PC-related products; manufacturing and sales will be stopped some time after this spring’s global launches.


The company announced that customers will continue to receive after-sales service from Sony for the time being. “Approximately 250 to 300 Sony Corporation and Sony EMCS Corporation employees involved in PC operations, including planning, design, development, manufacturing and sales, are expected to be hired by the new company established by JIP. Sony will also explore opportunities for other employees to be transferred to other businesses within the Sony Group.” The employees that don’t make the cut for either scenario will be offered early retirement programmes.

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