By Jon Russell
Sony has announced that it is laying off 5,000 staff as part of major restructuring plans that will see the Japanese firm sell its Vaio PC business and spin its TV division into its own company.
The layoffs will affect 1,500 staff in Japan and a further 3,500 overseas. A mixture of redundancies, early retirement and potential transfers to new companies will be offered to those selected within manufacturing, sales and administration in its TV and PC businesses. Sony believes it can trim its costs by one third over the next 15 months before the start of its 2015 financial year.
There has been much speculation about the future of Sony’s Vaio business, so it comes as little surprise that the unit is being sold. The loss-making division is being bought by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), the Japanese fund that was strongly linked with a deal this weekend (it was also suggested that Lenovo had been interested.) Under JIP’s leadership, the new company will focus on the local Japanese market, “while evaluating possible further geographic expansion.”
Sony has long made it clear that it was reviewing the future of its PC business, and it singled out a number of factors — including “the drastic changes in the global PC industry” — behind its decision. The company anticipates that the JIT deal will be completed by March 2014 — which means the products it launches this Spring will be its last Vaio devices, though it will continue to offer assistance to customers beyond the completion of the sale.
As for its TV brand, Sony says it intends to spin it into a wholly-owned subsidiary by July 2014. Sony has cut the division’s losses significantly — a 147.5 billion yen loss for financial year 2011 was cut to a 69.6 billion loss one year later — and it expects that to continue, with the spun out firm forecast to reach profitability for its 2014 financial year.
In addition to cutting costs to reach its target, the TV business is adopting a different approach that will see it focus on high-end products — in particular its 4K range — while enhancing its 2K range with new features. In emerging markets, the company will release TV sets that are “tailored to specific local needs.”
Headline image via YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / Getty Images / AFP