Olympus: Sale of its camera division and job cuts are on the table
While it may have been unthinkable a few years ago, it appears that Olympus could be planning to sell its camera businesses. Until recently, new CEO Yasuo Takeuchi, appointed to the role in April, had quashed speculation to that effect. However, Takeuchi has now changed tack, announcing to reporters in Tokyo that Olympus' camera business may now be for sale.
The statement follows Olympus reporting this month that its camera division accounted for just 6% of overall sales. Moreover, the business is the slowest growing and lowest margin of any within Olympus' portfolio. A company spokesperson said that Olympus is working to stabilise its imaging business by focusing on its main markets, but did not explain what that means. While Olympus has also confirmed that it "regularly reassess its business portfolio to focus on its medical business", it is yet to release any concrete plans for the sale of its camera division.
The possibility of selling its camera division falls under a wider restructuring program. Bloomberg claims that this program started following the purchase of 5% of Olympus by U.S. hedge fund ValueAct Capital Management, which recently added two directors to the company's board.
The program aims to double the company's operating margin by 2023, according to Takeuchi. Ominously, he also confirmed that "the issue of personnel will naturally need to be addressed". Expect Olympus to announce redundancies soon, then.