Olympus president: “we need a video business” *UPDATED*

The Japanese website Newswitch (part of Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, one of the leading daily newspapers in Japan) published an article called “Large deficit camera business, criteria to determine whether Olympus will withdraw or survive” (Google translation) where the Olympus president Yasuo Takeuchi was quoted saying that Olympus needs a video business:

“To maximize Olympus’ corporate value, we need a video business today, but we can’t say for sure next year. The ultimate deciding factor is whether it will be long-term corporate value.”

UPDATE: Takeuchi didn’t talk about “video” business specifically. Instead, he mentioned “映像事業” which is their camera business. So, the more precise translation is:

“We need our camera business to maximize Olympus’s current corporate value. But I can’t say now whether we will need the camera business next year. We will make an ultimate decision based on whether the camera business will be a long term corporate value (for us).”

There were a few other quotes from Olympus executives explaining how important the imaging business is for the company:

The sales of the imaging business for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019 were 48.6 billion yen, 6% of the total. The operating deficit has expanded to 18.2 billion yen (1.2 billion yen deficit in the fiscal year ending March 2006), and strict attention is being paid to business continuity. Still, the reason for continuing the business is “the relationship with the medical business,” says Shigemi Sugimoto, director of the Imaging Business.

Sugimoto says, “We can contribute to other businesses with two axes: technology that produces high-definition images and know-how in mass production.” Cameras and interchangeable lenses have a rapid development cycle of technologies such as image processing and optics, and will be the driving force of imaging, which is the core of Olympus technology. The technology cultivated in the imaging business is useful for 4K endoscope systems in the medical field.

Unlike the current mainstream endoscopes, the therapeutic instruments we will focus on in the future require the production of large quantities of disposable products. “We will use the production know-how cultivated with cameras” to combat the competition in Europe and the United States, says Akihiro Taguchi, COO of the executive officer.

Nevertheless, making the business profitable is still an important issue. Interchangeable lenses are key to improving profitability. “I would like a business where you can buy the body you need for lenses,” says Sugimoto.

After multiple bad financial quarters, Olympus was rumored to shut down their camera business. The company may also cut jobs and a new lens price increase is rumored for February 2020.

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