Sony has squirted $640m into ailing Olympus, collaborating on imaging sensors for new digital cameras, and forming a new medical business for surgical cameras and more. The alliance will “combine Olympus’s lens and optical technologies, as well as the strength of its brand and R&D, with Sony’s broad range of technologies including digital imaging technologies and apply them in the rapidly growing medical market” the pair say [pdf link], in addition to Sony providing image sensors for future Olympus cameras, in exchange for lenses and mirror cells.
In return for its 50 billion yen, Sony will get 34,387,000 Olympus common shares, giving the company an 11.46-percent voting right. The first bunch of shares will be passed over on October 23, with the second due sometime between then and February 28.
Someone of Sony’s choosing will also be appointed to the Olympus board, or at least Olympus “will make every effort” to ensure that happens.
The name of the new medical business venture has not been decided upon, though it will have four Sony-nominated directors and three by Olympus; each will suggest an auditor and a representative director, while Sony will elect the president and Olympus the deputy president. Kicking off with a 50 million yen investment – 51-percent from Sony, the remainder from Olympus – it will focus on 4K-resolution (or higher) surgical endoscopes that may also include 3D support, together with the hardware needed to use them.
Eventually, Sony says, it expects the medical business to become a consolidated subsidiary of its own, though there’s no telling when, exactly, that will happen. The goal is a market share in excess of 20-percent by 2020.