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Sony buys Toshiba’s image sensor unit for £102mn

Fri 4 Dec 2015

Japanese electrics company Toshiba has today announced that it has sold its image sensor business to Sony for 19 billion yen (approx. £102mn), amid a sorry financial outlook and a public accounting scandal.

From April next year, Sony will take complete control of Toshiba’s semiconductor fabrication facility in Oita, Japan. The factory has capacity to ship up to 12,500 300mm wafers every month.

In addition to the acquisition of the Oita site, Sony will also take over all its equipment and 1,100 members of staff, who will now work under Sony’s Semiconductor Corporation. The facility will primarily be dedicated to ‘manufacturing CMOS image sensors.’

“Under the agreements, Toshiba will transfer semiconductor fabrication facilities, equipment and related assets of Toshiba’s 300mm wafer production line, mainly located at its Oita Operations facility. The purchase price of the Transfer is 19 billion yen. Sony and Toshiba aim to complete the Transfer within the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, subject to any required regulatory approvals,” confirmed the official statement.

The move will see Toshiba’s exit from the image sensor market. Discussions for the acquisition began in October this year, with Japanese reports noting that Toshiba had turned to Sony because of its business history. Sony once sold part of its semiconductor business in Nagasaki to Toshiba – only to repurchase it at a later date.

“Toshiba has little choice but to carry out a sweeping reorganization of its presence in semiconductors,” a report from Nikkei read in October when the rumoured deal first came to light.

Once the Oita deal is complete, Sony will become a fierce competitor in the image sensor sector. Its leading image sensor technologies already make up nearly 40% of today’s smartphone market, integrated into Apple’s iPhones, Samsung’s Galaxy range, and Xiaomi and LG models among other popular makes.

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