Sony to sell chemical business to Japan state bank

TOKYO Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:44am EDT

1 of 2. Sony Corp's headquarters is pictured in Tokyo February 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T) said on Thursday that it will sell off part of a chemical and device subsidiary that makes films and adhesives used in televisions, cameras and mobile phones to state-backed Development Bank of Japan Inc DBJPN.UL.

The company said a purchase price had not been decided. The Nikkei business daily reported earlier that the bank would pay 30 billion to 40 billion yen ($360-480 million) for the purchase.

The partial sale of Sony Chemical & Information Device Corp (SCID) represents Sony's latest move to offload assets, bringing it closer to Apple Inc.'s (AAPL.O) business model of keeping design and product development in-house and relying on third parties for fabrication.

Sony and the lender said in a release that they aimed to finalize the deal by May 31, with the sale to be concluded by the end of the year.

Sony said it would retain manufacturing of some products linked to information devices such as magnetic tape, substrates used in LCDs and blu ray disk parts.

The company did not say what proportion of overall output it would sell to DBJ, but of 4,200 people employed by the unit in Japan and overseas, 3,000 are involved in the production of chemical products that the government lender will acquire.

Over the past several months Sony has been dumping production capacity. In December it agreed to sell its nearly 50 percent share in a joint liquid crystal display venture with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) to the Korean company, exiting a fabrication partnership that had forced it to buy panels at high cost amid a supply glut.

Last year, Sony also agreed to merge its production of small LCDs with that of Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) in company Japan Display, which is two-thirds owned by the taxpayer-funded Innovation Network Corp of Japan.

Kazuo Hirai, who will take over as president of Sony on April 1, has said he will focus on building Sony's network business, using the gaming unit and its online PlayStation console as a model for the rest of the company.

For the year ending March 31, Sony has forecast a 220 billion yen net deficit, much of it the result of losses at its television unit.

Sony's shares fell 1.8 percent in early trading before ending the morning session up 0.5 percent at 1,741.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Miki Kayaoka; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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