Sony and Fujifilm rivals for Olympus equity

Number of contenders narrows

Olympus

A source has claimed that Sony and Fujifilm are the leading contenders to partner up with Olympus, which is looking to improve its finances after being hit with scandal in the latter part of 2011.

Several contenders have been named in the past few weeks, including Japanese rival Panasonic, and the Korean based Samsung.

Olympus, although perhaps most famously known for its camera division, also has a successful medical arm, which is where most of its profits come from. Sony is said to be keen to tap into the lucrative business of diagnostic endoscopes, which Olympus has a 70% global market share in.

Stock

Newspapers in Japan have reported that Sony's Chief Executive had given the go ahead for an equity deal. Meanwhile, shares in Olympus have risen by 8.2%, helped also by the Tokyo Stock Exchange's decision to keep the stock listed. Shares remain down by about 50% since October, when it fired its chief executive Michael Woodford which went on to a series of revelations about the company going back as far as 1990 to be revealed.

Fujifilm on the other hand, is also involved in the medical business, currently holding a 10% share of the endoscope market is reportedly interested in supporting the company, though Japan's antimonopoly rules could be a hurdle.

Any equity decision still appears to be far off, as negotiations are stunted by a lack of leadership at Olympus, which has seen several CEOs fired or dismissed in recent months. The current management has said it will not resign until the shareholders' meeting at the end of April.

Meanwhile, a group of shareholders is rumoured to be preparing a lawsuit against Olympus over the slide in share prices.

via Reuters