Reuters: Sony plans to buy back a Nagasaki semiconductor plant from Toshiba Corp for about 50 billion yen ($597.2 million) to double output capacity for CMOS image sensors used in smartphones and other devices, the Nikkei business daily reported.
Sony sold it to Toshiba in 2008. Acquiring the plant back will double Sony's image sensor output capacity to the equivalent of about 40,000 wafers a month, the daily said.
By boosting output and lowering production costs, Sony aims to catch up with such firms Samsung and U.S. players in the CMOS sensor market, Nikkei said.
Update: EETimes publishes an article with details about the March 2008 complex deal between Toshiba and Sony.
Update #2: Reuters quotes Sony Executive Deputy President Hiroshi Yoshioka saying in an interview this week that it was in the process of deciding how to cover a shortage in CMOS sensor output capacity.
Update #3: Sony published an official PR here.
Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (NSM), which was established in March 2008 and is located in the Nagasaki Technology Center of Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation ("SCK"), has been manufacturing the high-performance "Cell Broadband Engine" processor, the graphics engine "RSX" and other high-performance semiconductors and leading-edge SoCs for applications in digital consumer products of Toshiba and Sony. The facilities to be transferred would be the fabrication facilities and equipment for the 300 mm wafer line located within the Nagasaki Technology Center purchased by Toshiba from Sony and SCK and leased to NSM in 2008 and other facilities that Toshiba and Sony will agree to transfer among those in which Toshiba invested in connection with the operation by NSM after the purchase.
Current NSM ownership: Toshiba 60%, Sony 20% and SCEI 20%
Number of employees: Approximately 460 as of December 1, 2010