Embattled Sony Announces Another Asset Sale

Embattled Sony Announces Another Asset Sale

Feb. 20, 2013
Company will sell part of its stake in an online medical information company.

TOKYO -- Sony (IW 1000/39) said it would book a $1.2 billion gain from selling part of an online medical services unit, the Japanese electronics giant's latest asset sale as it eyes a full-year profit.

Sony said it would book a one-time gain of 115 billion yen (US$1.2 billion) by selling a 6% stake in M3 Inc. to Deutsche Securities. The unit supplies online medical information to doctors.

Sony, which would still own about 50% of M3 after the sale, said the move was part of a bid to "transform" its business and "reorganize assets" and that it would still remain M3's major shareholder.

The maker of Bravia televisions lost 456.66 billion yen in the last fiscal year, its fourth year in the red, but says it is still on track for a 20 billion yen net profit in the year to March.

The firm has announced a massive corporate overhaul that includes thousands of job cuts and the sale of a chemical division and its U.S. headquarters in Manhattan.

It is also investing in Olympus to tap the camera and medical equipment maker's strong foothold in the global market for endoscopes used in surgery.

Sony is expected to announce the launch of the latest PlayStation console in the United States on Wednesday as it faces growing competition from cheap -- or sometimes free -- downloadable games for smartphones and tablets.

Its PlayStation 3 has sold more than 75 million units, while over 155 million units of the PlayStation 2 have been sold since its debut in 2000, making it one of the best-selling videogame consoles of all time.

Sony, Nintendo and Xbox maker Microsoft dominate the global games console market, which is worth about $44 billion annually, according to industry figures.

Japan's electronics sector, including  Panasonic and Sharp, has suffered from myriad problems including a strong yen, slowing demand in key export markets, fierce overseas competition especially in television sales, and strategic mistakes.

It has also been hurt by a Chinese consumer boycott of Japanese brands stemming from a territorial spat between Beijing and Tokyo.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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