AMITIAE - Tuesday 13 December 2011

Sony Acquisitions in 2011 May not help it in any Quest to Best Apple

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Analysts are not convinced that Sony Chairman, Howard Stringer is pursuing the right strategy in the company's fight to rival Apple: a battle it may have lost a long time ago according to a report on the Bloomberg site by Naoko Fujimura.

So far in 2011 $8.4 billion has been spent by the Japanese giant in acquisitions aimed at boosting the mobile phone business and in other areas, but losses are still growing. Having finally taken control of its venture with Ericsson, it has also acquired a share in the music assets of Michael Jackson as well as gaining some patent rights in deals with Apple and Microsoft.

However, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co, Mitsushige Akino, is unconvinced by this strategy as it fails to tackle the question of growth which is urgently needed by Sony which has shrunk from a 2000 valuation of $100 billion to $18 billion now.

Certain factors out of its control are hurting the company right now, including the value of the Yen, flooding in Thailand which has impinged on production and may need further investment for rebuilding damaged factories and equipment.

The main acquisitions in 2011 according to the report are:

  • Patents owned by Nortel in a deal with Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson and EMC -- this is the deal that Google objected to so loudly. The acquired patents are used in mobile phones and tablet computers.

  • The purchase of EMI Music publishing from Citibank, with David Geffen and others.

  • The 50% share in Sony-Ericsson that Ericsson AB had owned was brought-in earlier in the year for some $1.5 billion.

  • A factory that produced TFT LCDs and touch screen technology in China owned by Suzhou Epson Co., Ltd was bought from Epson Corporation in February for 775 million Yuan (CNY) -- $118 million.

  • Bloomberg also reports a $63 million deal with Toshiba.

Compared with other companies, Sony is a leader in making acquisitions this year and the company sees this as part of an aggressive strategy to creating growth. The analysts agree, however, that the key to Sony is television production, but this in itself is a problem with the new markets and consumer groups that the internet is creating.

Sony needs to use its recently bought assets as well as its long-term ownership of music and movies, together with its hardware strengths, but it may not have the speed, according to Mitsushige Akino, "to catch up with Apple and Samsung."



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