Sony mulls battery unit sale in push toward core electronics

Tue Jan 8, 2013 1:14am EST
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By Tim Kelly

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Sony Corp is considering the sale of its battery business but has made no decision yet, Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said on Monday, as the company seeks to offload non-core assets and revive its consumer electronics business.

Hirai also told reporters on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that Christmas sales were "pretty much" in line with expectations, although sales of its handheld game console Vita were at the low end of its expectations. He gave no further details.

In November, Sony revised down its forecast for full-year sales of handheld PSP and Vita game consoles to 10 million units, compared with a prediction it made in August for 12 million.

Under Hirai, Sony is doubling down on consumer electronics - with a focus on mobile phones, tablets and gaming - while shedding non-core assets, as it seeks to regain ground against rivals like Samsung Electronics Co and bounce back from four straight years of net losses.

Sony and Japan's other big TV makers, Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp, have also been hobbled by a strong yen that has squeezed margins, although the currency has weakened in recent months.

"The discussion (on selling units) extends to any business that aren't really adding to the core business," Hirai said.

He said Sony would keep units that would help it revive its television business, tap emerging markets and expand its medical devices segment.

Helped by sales of assets, Sony expects to eke out a net profit of 20 billion yen ($230 million) in the year ending March 31, after losing 457 billion yen ($5.2 billion) in the previous financial year.   Continued...

New Sony Bravia 4K Ultra HD televisions are displayed after being unveiled during a Sony news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 7, 2013. Phil Molyneux (top L), president and COO of Sony Electronics Inc., can be seen on the screen in the background. REUTERS/Steve Marcus