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Sony in Talks to Sell Struggling Computer Business to Equity Fund

Kaz Hirai
Selling off the Vaio brand would be in line with CEO Kazuo Hirai's strategy of focusing on growth sectors.

Disposing of the PC division, maker of Vaio desktops and laptops, would be the boldest move yet in CEO Kazuo Hirai's strategy to streamline Sony's operations.

TOKYO -- Sony Corp. is reported to be in talks to sell its struggling PC business to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners for between $394 million and $492 million (¥40 billion to ¥50 billion) as part of its ongoing restructuring strategy.

The personal computer operations, known for its Vaio brand, include a factory and R&D facility in northern Japan. The staff of around 1,000 will either join the new venture or be redeployed within Sony.

STORY: Sony Entertainment Hires Bain & Co. to Cut $100 Million in Annual Costs

The Devices division, which includes PCs, cameras and smartphones, has been losing money, though Sony doesn't disclose earnings for the computer business alone. Its smartphone operations have been improving strongly, and with demand for laptops and desktops declining globally, the disposal of the PC division is in line with CEO Kazuo Hirai's strategy to focus on growth segments.

Japan Industrial Partners specializes in buying unprofitable business divisions and turning them around. The fund was formed by Bain & Co. and Japanese investment bank Mizuho Securities.

Sony Entertainment hired Bain & Co. as a consultant in November to help it cut $100 million in annual costs at its U.S. operations.

Sony shares were up more than 4.3 percent on the news in Tokyo trading at 2 p.m.

Third-quarter results for Sony will be released tomorrow.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair