Saturday, October 24, 2015

Nikkei: Toshiba to Sell Image Sensor Business to Sony for about $163M

Nikkei reports that "Toshiba is in late-stage talks on selling its image sensor operations to Sony in a deal estimated at around 20 billion yen ($163 million)."

"Negotiations on the sale have reached an advanced stage. Toshiba is looking to divest its newest production facility in Oita, which can handle 300mm wafers. Besides production equipment, Sony would take over some employees as well as customer accounts, which include automakers and camera manufacturers.

Besides production equipment, Sony would take over some employees as well as customer accounts, which include automakers and camera manufacturers.

Toshiba would in effect withdraw from the image sensor market and concentrate its semiconductor investment on its more competitive memory business.

Toshiba's global market share in CMOS sensors came to just 1.9% last year, compared with 40.3% for Sony, according to Tokyo-based Techno Systems Research. Sony's investments in this business will help it fend off rising competition from Samsung Electronics.

Reuters confirms this story, based on its own sources.

Another Nikkei article talks about Toshiba restructuring and its hard choices:

"Toshiba has little choice but to carry out a sweeping reorganization of its presence in semiconductors. It has turned to Sony, which once sold a portion of its semiconductor operations in Nagasaki to Toshiba, only to buy it back later.

Some workers at its Oita semiconductor operations in southern Japan would go to Sony as part of the image sensor business sale.

[Masashi Muromachi, the new Toshiba President who started the re-org - ISW] once ran Toshiba's semiconductor operations in Oita."

The Japan Times quotes Yomiuri newspaper saying the deal will be officially announced next week.

Toshiba Oita Fab


  1. SONY is in a buying spree

    1. What else did Sony buy recently?

    2. what is the range of this Softkinetic transaction please?

  2. Well Toshiba was doing some good technical work lately. I guess the next meal for Sony might be the Panasonic image sensor R&D team.

    1. Where Sony fonds money for thèse acquisitions?

    2. Remember that Sony Semiconductor is spinning out from the corporate parent on April 1. Until then they can leverage Sony stock and borrowing prowess to for buying as a >$80 billion company. After April 1 they are still a 3+ Billion company, but a little less interesting to investment bankers. So I expect the buying spree to continue for about another quarter until the spin-off.

      Also note that the Toshiba parent had some issues with re-reporting earnings and had to clean out their upper ranks. The need to focus on a few key segments moving quarter, plus raise cash (plus the lower market share of imaging after Nokia went away), means this deal really makes sense for both Sony and Toshiba.

  3. 163 million for 300mm equipment and technology looks like a good deal.

  4. Given the reported trouble at Samsung's camera division, would it make sense for Sony to buy the thorny rival's sensor division, excluding the mobile one (that Samsung surely won't sell)? Sony will be a monopoly soon, that will spurn a new wave of startups and new innovations among the smaller players. Love what I read on this forum the dual camera module from Altek. The computational approach will tip the balance.

  5. Or, until someday Apple decides to design its own image sensors; not unthinkable.

    1. Like they did with the A processor series with Samsung, Apple could conceivably "second source" Sony Imaging to keep them honest, but Sony basically built a custom fab just for Apple, and this Toshiba deal gives Sony another fab to dedicate to the big fruit company. Add to that millions tossed into R&D and so on, and I think Sony will keep ahead of the curve enough for Apple to hold back on doing their own sensors.

      From a system standpoint (Apple's acquisition of PrimeSense and Linx) Apple does seem to want to firewall system IP, but basically we are getting to an axis for sensors of Apple-Sony, OVT-China Inc, and Samsung-Samsung, with the other cellphone guys and imaging companies filling the holes.

      I think the interesting play will be in automotive. On has that market, Sony has publically stated they want into it, and Sony now has a footprint it in from both their SoftKinetic acquisition and their Toshiba acquisition. And maybe Apple is now also an automotive play....


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