Panasonic, Olympus to strengthen ties?


posted Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 2:08 PM EST

Olympus' logo. Click here to visit the Olympus website!Last week, we reported on the situation at Olympus, with the company preparing for restructuring and seeking a significant investment to help it deal with the after-effects of last year's financial scandal. Today, reports from the Japanese media suggest that the company may soon receive a significant investment from Panasonic Corp., its long-term partner in two interchangeable-lens camera standards.

Panasonic--then known as Matsushita Electric Industrial--first started cooperating with Olympus on the Four Thirds standard way back in early 2004, and the companies renewed that relationship with the debut of the Micro Four Thirds standard in mid-2008.

Without citing a specific source, Japan's Kyodo News agency reported that Panasonic is now mulling an investment of between ¥30-50billion (approximately US$380-630 million) in Olympus, which would make it the company's largest shareholder. According to Kyodo, Panasonic's interest is in forming an alliance with Olympus' medical unit. The latter is said to control around 70% of the global endoscope market, making a tie-up very attractive. An investment from Panasonic could also lead to even closer cooperation in the digital camera market, speculates Kyodo.

In a separate article currently available only to Kyodo subscribers, the news agency goes on to report that Olympus will announce its mid-term business plan at the end of the week.

For their part, Olympus and Panasonic have neither confirmed nor denied the reports. As it has done rather frequently of late, Olympus has again issued a statement to the effect that it "will immediately disclose any further important information when it comes to light".