Sony confirms sale of PC biz, 5K jobs to be cut

Japanese electronics giant announces plans to "reform" its PC and TV businesses, which will include the sale of its Vaio portfolio to Japan Industrial Partners and headcount slashed by 5,000.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Sony confirms it has inked a deal to sell its Vaio laptop unit to an investment fund, as part of a strategy to accelerate the "revitalization and growth" of its electronics business which willl also see its headcount slashed by 5,000. 

The Japanese electronics giant said in a statement Thursday that Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will buy over its PC business, marketed under the Vaio brand, but gave no details on how much the deal would be worth. Sony explained that the move was necessary amid "drastic changes" in the global PC market, and the "optimal solution" that would allow the company to focus on its mobile offerings encompassing smartphones and tablets.

JIP will set up a new company following the buyout, which is expected to focus its efforts on selling consumer and enterprise PCs in Japan, optimizing its sales channels and operations, as well as assessing the potential of expanding into overseas markets. Some 250 to 300 employees are expected to be transferred to the new company, including those involved in planning, design, development, manufacturing, and sales. 

Sony assured that customer support would remain unaffected. "As a part of the business transfer to JIP, Sony will cease planning, design and development of PC products. Manufacturing and sales will also be discontinued after the Spring 2014 lineup to be launched globally. Even after Sony withdraws from the PC market, Sony customers will continue to receive aftercare customer services," the company said. 

Today's move is part of the company's "reform strategy" across its electronics business previously announced in April 2012, during which it determined that its TV and PC businesses will no longer be profitable. It will spin off its TV division into a separate subsidiary by July 2014, in hopes of improving this unit's profit structure and return the business to profitability, Sony said. 

While some employees affected in the PC sale might be transferred to other units within Sony, an estimated 5,000 jobs from the restructuring, including of its TV business, will be cut by the end of the company's fiscal 2014. Some 3,500 of these will be personnel in its overseas outlets, while the remaining 1,500 will be from its local office. 

Sony expects to fork out 20 billion yen (US$196.29 million) to roll out the restructuring plans in fiscal 2013, and another 70 billion yen (US$690.05 million) by fiscal 2014. The company expects the restructuring measures to slash its annual fixed costs by over 100 billion yen (US$986.47 million) from fiscal 2015. 

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