Toshiba might be selling its sensor business to Sony

Toshiba seems to be in a bit of a tough spot lately after a troubling revelation that the company overstated earnings by $1.3 billion going back to fiscal 2008/09. Naturally this caused a veritable scandal, followed by a promise to restructure from the new CEO – Masashi Muromachi. A major part of this process is determining the faith of the OEM’s system LSI semiconductor business, which has been barely making a profit.

In light of this, industry sources are now claiming that Sony has lined up to purchase Toshiba’s image sensor business – a major part of the aforementioned semiconductor division. Allegedly, an offer has already been made for about 20 billion CNY, which roughly translates to $165 million.

This would most likely include ownership of Toshiba’s image sensor manufacturing plant in Oita, southern Japan, in addition to technology and research assets and would effectively mean that Toshiba is pulling out of the sensor business altogether.

This sounds like a very sound, albeit drastic step in restructuring some of the Japanese company’s less profitable segments, but a buyer in the face of Sony is somewhat puzzling. On the one hand, the deal makes perfect sense, as Sony is already a major player on the image sensor business, especially in the mobile realm, supplying hardware to nearly every major brand out there. But, on the other hand, Sony’s own mobile business is struggling to reform in some way, in the face of a serious deadline of a year or so to break a profit.

Thankfully, despite its hurdles in the mobile realm, Sony as a whole is doing quite alright for itself, especially thanks to the PlayStation business, so such deal is definitely possible form a financial standpoint and it could potentially boost Sony’s own expertise and manufacturing potential for image sensors. However, this can easily be interpreted as a sign that the Japanese giant is giving up on its mobile segment, which has been the stuff of rumors for a long time now and instead potentially focusing on delivering imaging hardware to third parties without putting out any more handsets on the market.

Hopefully, Sony’s long-standing mobile business will endure the hardships and find some way to regain profitability, before any such drastic measure are…

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