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Sony to exit PCs, spin off TV business, eliminate 5,000 positions

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Sony Corp. is exiting the PC market, announcing Thursday that it was selling its Vaio personal computer division.

The Japanese company said the move came after a "comprehensive analysis of factors, including the drastic changes in the global PC industry."

Sony said it had tentatively agreed to sell Vaio to Japan Industrial Partners Inc., a Japanese investment fund.

The sale of Vaio is intended to help Sony better grow its mobile electronics business, which going forward would focus more on smartphones and tablets, the company said.

Some analysts were surprised by the PC sale. Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, said Sony had not been unsuccessful in the PC business, especially recently, "which makes this more puzzling."

"We find this decision to be particularly troubling, and one that is likely, ultimately, at least in the U.S. to be decidedly unsuccessful," he wrote in a blog post.

Baker noted that designing and manufacturing PCs shared many synergies with tablets and smartphones. "And Sony’s total lack of success here in the U.S. in those segments is not likely to improve without a PC business alongside," he said. 

Sony also announced that it would spin off its TV business, noting that it was struggling with reforming the division and that its target of returning the TV business to profitability would not be achieved by the end of the fiscal year ending March 31.

Going forward, Sony -- which has been engaged in various cost-reduction initiatives in its TV business -- said it would accelerate its shift to high-end TV models.  It also said it had been reducing yearly losses in the TV business and that the reforms over the last two years "are putting the business on a path to turnaround."

As part of the PC and TV moves, Sony said it expected to cut about 5,000 jobs -- 1,500 in Japan and 3,500 overseas -- by the end of March 31, 2015. 

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