Sony seeking Olympus stake: report

Posted at 01/24/2012 11:47 AM | Updated as of 01/25/2012 7:46 AM

TOKYO - Japanese electronics giant Sony is in talks to take a stake of up to 30 percent in Olympus as the camera firm looks to shore up its finances after a $1.7 billion cover-up scandal, a report said Tuesday.

The electronics giant has proposed a capital and business tie-up with the camera and medical equipment maker, offering to take a maximum stake of about 20 to 30 percent, the Nikkei business daily said without naming its sources.

Olympus is seeking a corporate alliance combined with an issue of preferred stock to boost its balance sheet, the report said, although it did not say how much Sony might invest.

Several Japanese and foreign companies have been mentioned in the media as possible business partners for Olympus in the wake of revelations it covered up $1.7 billion in investment losses dating back to the 1990s.

With its mainstay consumer electronics business struggling Sony has identified health care as a growth area, the Nikkei said.

It is looking to expand the use of its imaging sensors in endoscopes and grow sales of products such as high-resolution monitors for medical use, the paper added.

Sony declined to comment on the report.

Olympus said in a statement that it was "studying all possible options for management reform" but no decisions had been made.

According to the Nikkei, Japanese medical devices maker Terumo -- which held a 2.5 percent stake in Olympus as of September 30 -- is also among the troubled company's suitors, as is Fujifilm Holdings.

The Olympus scandal has rocked global confidence in Japanese corporate governance, and the company's current president Shuichi Takayama said this month he would step down after an extraordinary general meeting in April.

Sony shares fell 1.33 percent to 1,403 yen in Tokyo morning trade after recent gains, while Olympus edged up 0.53 percent to 1,304 yen.