Olympus, once one of the world’s largest camera brands, has announced plans to get out of the camera business entirely, selling off its imaging division to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). Both the companies have signed a memorandum of understanding, which will see Olympus transfer its shares to a fund managed and operated by JIP.
“After the due diligence and further discussions and negotiations, the parties are aiming to sign a legally binding definitive agreement for the Transaction by September 30, 2020,” Olympus said in a statement.
The Japanese corporation said that it has been implementing measures to cope with the “extremely severe digital market”, pointing to the arrival of smartphones as one of the major factors that has shrunk the market for separate cameras.
However, after recording losses for three consecutive years, Olympus has decided to call it quits on its imaging division.
“Olympus has improved the cost structure by restructuring the manufacturing bases and focusing on high-value-added interchangeable lenses, aiming to rectify the earning structure to those that may continue generating profit even as sales dwindle,” the statement said.
“Despite all such efforts, Olympus’s Imaging business recorded operating losses for 3 consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.”
Olympus believes that by handing over its Imaging business to JIP, the Imaging business’s corporate structure may become “more compact, efficient and agile”.
“It is the most appropriate way to realize self-sustainable and continuous growth and to bring values to the users of our products as well as our employees working in the Imaging business,” it said.
Olympus then recalled the start of its business 84 years ago in 1936, when it had begun with the manufacture and sale of a camera using the photographic lens, Zuiko.
Through innovative technology and unique product development capabilities, Olympus developed a range of products including the Olympus Pen, the innovative half-sized camera; Zuiko Pearlcorder, the world’s first micro-cassette tape recorder; and Olympus OM-D series, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.
Once JIP takes over Olympus’ Imaging business, it will continue the research and development functions and manufacturing functions globally and continue to offer “high-quality and highly reliable products” while continuing to provide supports to the imaging solution products that have been distributed by Olympus.
Olympus and JIP are scheduled to sign the Definitive Agreement by 30 September 2020, and are expected to close the Transaction by 31 December 2020.
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