June 25, 2020

CHANGE: Olympus to Exit Camera Business After 84 Years.

The Tokyo company, which has been under pressure from U.S. shareholder ValueAct Capital to improve shareholder returns, said Wednesday that it planned to sell its camera unit to private-equity firm Japan Industrial Partners Inc. It didn’t disclose financial details. The companies aim to complete their deal by the end of the year.

Olympus was a global consumer brand for decades thanks to its cameras, hiring the likes of supermodel Cheryl Tiegs to promote its products on television. It shifted readily to digital cameras in the 1990s and was No. 2 in market share behind Sony Corp. early this century.

As recently as 2007, the dawn of the smartphone era, digital cameras were a $3-billion-a-year business for Olympus. Within a few years, however, most of the market evaporated because people were using their phones to take pictures. Camera revenue shrank to just over $400 million in the year ended March 31, and the business has lost money for the past three fiscal years.

The company’s main product line is now medical-imaging devices such as endoscopes.

There probably isn’t — or at least soon won’t be — room left for more than two, maybe three SLR camera makers.

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.