October 6, 2015 / 7:34 AM / 2 years ago

Sony to split off fast-growing image sensor business

Pedestrians are reflected in a logo of Sony Corp outside its showroom in Tokyo, Japan, June 23, 2015.Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T) said it will split off its semiconductors operations in a bid to bolster growth in devices such as image sensors, which have helped lead a turnaround at the Japanese electronics maker.

Sony said the move was part of the company's push to give autonomy to its business units to accelerate decision-making and make them more accountable for their profitability.

So far, Sony has focused on splitting off underperforming units, but it said more autonomy for the sensors business would help it remain competitive. Its sensor rivals include OmniVision Technologies OVTI.O and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS).

Sensors, used in smartphones such as Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone, have been one of the company's strongest products in the past few years, in contrast with its TVs and smartphones which have lagged behind those of Asian rivals.

Sony in April said it would spend 45 billion yen ($374 million) to bolster sensor production capacity this fiscal year on top of a 105 billion yen investment announced in February.

The company is hoping to expand its sensors into automobile-related products, as vehicles adopt more sensor-enabled safety features.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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