Olympus has just announced that it is getting out of the camera business entirely, the company is selling off its camera division to an investment fund. Japan Industrial Partners, the company that bought the VAIO computer business from Sony, has signed an MoU that will see Olympus spin out the division and transfer all of its shares.
The camera division is a small part of Olympus’ big business, which is largely focused on medical equipment such as endoscopes, etc. Olympus CEO Yasuo Takeuchi pointed to reporters last year that the camera division isn’t for a sale, although the company later downplayed those remarks.
Olympus says it “implemented measures to cope with the extremely severe digital camera market, due to, amongst others, rapid market shrink caused by the evolution of smartphones,” but has concluded that its efforts weren’t enough. As it did with VAIO, Japan Industrial Partners plans to streamline the camera business and will continue to develop products using Olympus brands such as OM-D and Zuiko.
Olympus’ camera division, which has centered around Micro Four Thirds-format mirrorless cameras for the past decade, has lost money for the last 3 years. The Pen series, based on a classic half-frame film line, triggered the wave of retro digital mirrorless cameras with 2009’s E-P1, and Olympus released several well-received cameras throughout the 2010s.
Olympus and Japan Industrial Partners plan to sign a definitive agreement by the end of September, with the deal expected to close later this year. Financial terms of the acquisition haven’t yet been made public.