It’s done, it’s final. Olympus has announced today that it has concluded a definitive agreement with Japan Industrial Partners Inc. (JIP) regarding the transfer of the Olympus Imaging Business.
According to the press release, Olympus will be transferring its Imaging business to a new wholly-owned subsidiary called the “New Imaging Company”, through what is called an absorption-type split. This will be followed up on January 1, 2021 by a transfer of 95% of the shares to OJ Holdings, Ltd – a “special purpose company” set up by JIP.
Olympus has been manufacturing and selling cameras and lenses since 1936, but with the rapidly shrinking market over the last few years and the proliferation of smartphone cameras, they just couldn’t adapt. Olympus has recorded losses for three consecutive fiscal years leading up to March 2020, despite taking steps to attempt to overcome the problems they were facing.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t do it, and the decision was made to split off the Imaging business to JIP to create a “more compact, efficient and agile” business that was self-sustainable. They say that the New Imaging Company will be committed to providing customers with innovative, high quality cameras under the new structure.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all our customers for their patronage and support of Olympus products, and for their passion devoted to photography. I have the utmost confidence that this transfer is the correct step forward in sustaining the value of our products and services.
At the same time, I am certain that this opportunity is the best choice for our long-time patrons, new customers and photography enthusiasts. Under the new company, the development, manufacturing, sales and service functions will continue tight collaboration to introduce new products that will satisfy customers.
– Yasuo Takeuchi, President and CEO, Olympus Corporation
This deal doesn’t just mean that JIP has access to the Olympus brand name and IP. They also get all of the R&D and manufacturing facilities currently serving its Imaging business. So, it’s not like JIP is starting from scratch. They’re essentially taking the existing business and… tweaking it.
But sales and marketing, R&D and design departments will be relocated to the New Imaging Company headquarters in Hachioji, Tokyo, although production will continue at Dong Nai in Vietnam where Olympus cameras are currently being manufactured. New Imaging Company will also provide support for existing Olympus products already in the hands of customers, reaffirming the commitment made earlier in the month.
Overall, though, the future looks quite promising for the Olympus brand. Worst case, I don’t think Olympus is going to be any worse off than it has been. And best case, they turn things around and Olympus becomes a thriving name in the world of photography again. I guess only time will tell.
You can read the complete agreement here.