As first reported by The Verge, Olympus announced its plans to sell its imaging division as early as September 2020. The company will spin its camera business to a new company managed by Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (JIP), the same company that bought the VAIO computer business from Sony.
The announcement follows rumors last year that Olympus was shutting down its camera business, which was rebuked by the company.
Olympus’ imaging business started in 1936, and focused on selling smaller and compact cameras that retained high image quality. For the past few years, the company has made several efforts to restructure to become profitable, by focusing on high-value-added interchangeable lenses and cameras that included features not previously seen.
In 2020, the company released the OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera and the 12-45mm f/4 PRO lens. It had previously announced plans to release a 150-400mm f/4.5 PRO lens later this year.
In a press release, JIP hinted at creating a more compact corporate structure. The company stated it “will utilize the innovative technology and unique product development capabilities which have been developed within Olympus, and will realize continuous growth of the business by bringing better products and services to the users and customers and by making itself a productive and rewarding work place for its employees.”
JIP also stated it will continue to provide support to the imaging solution products that have been distributed by Olympus.
UPDATE: Statement from Olympus
After reaching out to Olympus this morning, we received the following statement:
“As you are aware, the Imaging industry has experienced marked declines for several consecutive years. The market is contracting as the smartphone industry grows, and competition has been steadily increasing in the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera segment.
“Due to these long term trends as well as recent market contractions due to COVID-19, the Olympus Imaging Business Unit has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (JIP). According to the MOU, both companies are entering into further discussions about the potential transfer of Olympus’ long-standing Imaging business to JIP by the end of 2020.
“During these discussions, Olympus Imaging will operate business as usual and will continue to deliver innovations to our customers, launching new products as planned. Olympus and JIP are committed to providing our stakeholders full transparency about our intentions as plans solidify.
“For more details, please also refer to our corporate disclosure ‘Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Divesture of Imaging Solutions Business’ dated June 24, 2020.”