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Sony in Final Stages of Talks to Invest in Olympus, Nikkei Says

Sony Corp. (6758), Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, may invest about 50 billion yen ($624 million) to get a stake of about 10 percent in Olympus Corp. (7733), the Nikkei newspaper said.

The companies aim to reach an agreement by the end of next month, the Nikkei reported, without saying where it got the information. Panasonic Corp. (6752), which had also made a tie-up proposal to Olympus, withdrew the offer, the report said.

Olympus, whose capital declined by more than half after the Japanese camera maker admitted to a 13-year accounting fraud, is considering offers from Sony, Panasonic, Terumo Corp. and Fujifilm Holdings Corp. to raise about 50 billion yen in capital, Olympus president Hiroyuki Sasa said earlier this week. Olympus hasn’t narrowed down the number of candidates, he said.

“We’re not the source of information for the report,” Keizo Masuda, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Sony, said by phone today. Olympus hasn’t made any decisions and isn’t the source of the report, the company said in a statement. Panasonic also isn’t the source of the information, Atsushi Hinoki, a spokesman, said by e-mail.

Olympus rose as much as 5 percent, the most on an intraday basis since June 5, to 1,228 yen and traded at 1,201 yen as of 9:22 a.m. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Sony gained 2.3 percent to 1,126 yen.

Olympus restated earnings last year, taking a $1.3 billion cut in its total equity, after admitting it paid inflated fees on takeovers and overpaid for three Japanese companies to conceal past investment losses. Net assets fell to 43.8 billion yen as of Dec. 31, from 151 billion yen reported in the previous quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo and Sony President Kazuo Hirai have declined to comment on possible tie-ups with Olympus.

Olympus is the world’s biggest maker of endoscopes, which are cameras used by doctors to see inside the body. Sony is speeding up a move into health equipment by using the edge its image sensors have over rivals, Hirai said earlier this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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