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(FT1) Very wild rumors: Samsung wants to buy Olympus shares? (+Olympus apologies).


Before you read this. The rumor is based on non proved facts. I received that anonymous tip and have no way to double check it. So take it easy! It’s quite “strange” but I post it anyway. Here is the text of the rumor:
Well, the OlympusDrama is taking a new dimension in Wall Street, here is a strong rumors about a requirement for Samsung Medical Device Development (a Samsung Electronic Division) to an evaluation company about the Olympus Medical Devices unit. Samsung could be looking for the opportunity to buy a good bunch of stocks.
Just my tow cent on this: Although the rumor is talking about the interest from Samsung about the medical part of Olympus also the camera division could interest them. Samsung is heavily investing in their mirrorless system and an Olympus acquisition would help them to gain lot of technical skills and historical experience.

Back to real news:

Mr. Noda (prime minister of Japan) said that the allegations surrounding Olympus may be taken as indicative of how the whole country operates. And: “What worries me is that it will be a problem if people take the events at this one Japanese company and generalise from that to say Japan is a country that does not follow the rules of capitalism” Source: Techradar.

And the next news is that Olympus president Shuichi Takayama said: “We wish to make a profound apology for all the distress and trouble caused due to the recent series of media reports and fall in stock prices triggered by our recent change in President. The past acquisitions mentioned in the media were handled with the appropriate evaluations and procedures. These transactions were in no way improper and we are setting up an external panel of experts to examine and report on this acquisitions activity…We sincerely hope to conclude this situation as quickly as possible to restore society’s trust in us and to bring reassurance to our customers, business partners, shareholders and employees. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.” (Source: AP).

And MR. Woodford said “Olympus will survive the controversy and is a good business. There’s nothing wrong with the company. So the company will go on“. (Source: AP).

A reminder: Months ago a rumor from one of my trusted sources said that Samsung offered Four Thirds sensor for Olympus. I still don’t know yet if Olympus will consider that option.

FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct

  • Maley

    Why should Olympus buy Samsung sensors? The G3 sensor beats the crap out of the NX200 sensor and that is even APS-C sized, imagine a 4/3 sized Samsung sensor, or better not it would be horrible.
    Just look at the Dpreview comparision (yes, I know its only jpg).

    • ProShooter

      Oly obviously doesn’t get the G3 sensor but only the old crap which is seriously outdated by now…

      • Frederic Hew

        Maybe, we don’t really know.

        The only thing we do know is that the multiple ratio sensors are not available to Olympus but, mind you, Panasonic is not using them in other cameras – they are reserved for GH line as a differentiating factor.

        In the same vein, the LX5 has an over-sized, multiple ratio sensor and the XZ-1 does not. It does have a very decent, modern, sensor though.

  • bilgy_no1

    “Just my tow cent on this: Samsung is heavily investing in their mirrorless system and an Olympus acquisition would help them to gain lot of technical skills and historical experience.”

    This is really far fetched and nonsense. The rumour relates to the Medical activities of Olympus which are far bigger, and from business point of view far more interesting than the digital camera activities.

    Digital ILCs are only a small part of the Olympus portfolio, and an even smaller part of the Samsung portfolio. If you buy Olympus shares, you buy into the medical business (strong market position in endoscopes), and get a bit of ILC stuff on the side.

    • Miroslav

      AFAIC, Samsung can have all the endoscopes they want, but I hope they’ll leave Imaging division to some other manufacturer. Both Samsung and Oly ILCs have good lenses and mediocre sensors, so they wouldn’t complement each other. I’d like Fuji, Ricoh or Canon to take over, they are the ones that would be the likeliest to improve Olympus m4/3 lineup. Others have their CSCs and would just take apart Olympus camera business, using only patents and technology. Talking of takeovers, Google would be even better solution to take over, just like they’ve done with Motorola Mobility. They would put Android and some kind of wireless communication in cameras and that would be a small revolution.

      • Frederic Hew

        I don’t think we will see Fuji taking over, but close cooperation between the companies could be very advantageous to both.

        The X10 has a relatively large (2/3) EXR sensor – maybe they could offer Olympus a 4/3 version?

        We know for a fact they are planning to release a mirrorless system camera with – according to them – exceptional image quality – this probably means they are working on a larger sensor (EXR, triple layer or what not).

  • What would make sense is that Samsung tries to buy Olympus MEDICAL branch (but not the photo branch). The latter might fit much better to Panasonic, who would not only own the entire four thirds and micro four thirds universe but also get access to Olympus really outstanding JPEG engine – something where Panasonic is rather weak. Just compare Panasonic’s raws and JPEGs to those from Olympus: Olympus produces really excellent JPEGs out of the camera, while Panasonic has problems with skin tones, red tones, yellow tones, noise and about everything.

    • Mr. Reeee

      why would Panasonic buy an entire company, when what they really need is a good programmer to do some imaging engine fine tuning and distribute it in their next firmware releases.

      Speaking firmware updates, whatever happened to the official Panasonic GH2 firmware update?

      • Ahem

        It’s a bit tougher than throwing money at the problem, clearly. Otherwise people would be talking about Canon or Nikon JPEG superiority, but they are talking about Olympus.

      • harnamsc

        Panasonic probably won’t release any more firmware updates for the GH2 because (1) There are so many hacks for the GH2 already (which mostly replace the firmware updates anyway) and (2) Any new GH2 firmware update would overwrite or disable the hacks which would cause outrage and protest (not the Occupy Wallstreet kind!)

  • Compared to Olympus camera making tradition Panny are the unwashed and it shows. They are not really making cameras for stills photographers, but for videographers and consumers – or for those who kowtow before a RAW image with a certain amount of MPx.: boffins.

    Having said that Bilgy’s remark is perfectly reasonable. Admin has a tendency to beat the jungle drums, without even stopping to understand what he is reading: the news is about the MEDICAL division, and no takeover of the CAMERA division is mentioned.

    it would also take aa complete Uturn from Samsung to start producing 4/3 sensors, or for Oly to start producing APS lenses. Better they sold the division to the Chinese, or to Panny.

    But we are still not there: the teeth grinding of scadenfreude artists can go on as blindly as before.

    • Nick Clark

      “Compared to Olympus camera making tradition Panny are the unwashed and it shows. They are not really making cameras for stills photographers, but for videographers and consumers – or for those who kowtow before a RAW image with a certain amount of MPx.: boffins.”

      I’ll believe that when Oly makes a sensor that can compete for IQ with the G3/GH2 and a body that can compete for usability with the G3/GH2…

      • ProShooter

        Oly only gets the old pana sensor and just started with their own sensor design which is also made by pana… the reson for the bad chips lies with panasonic alone…

        • Nick Clark

          Lol how is it Panasonic’s fault that Olympus made themselves dependant on a direct competitor for chips?

      • harnamsc

        I agree that Panasonic does seem to veer towards videography in their cameras, but at least Panasonic are trying to innovate and come up with something new every now and then like the X lens series. The lens may appear more geared towards video, but it also allows for a pancake zoom which reduces the physical footprint of m4/3 cameras. How many Sony NEX users actually like their bulky Zeiss lens? A lot of NEX users are pointing to m4/3 lens and saying WE’VE got the better deal cos m4/3 lens are smaller?

        Plus this also allows Panasonic to develop their own lens under a new brand name, instead of having to wait on and rely on Leica. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe a Leica lens will outperform a Lumix-X lens anytime, but at least this new series of lens will help bridge the gap between the quality of Panasonic-Lumix lens and Panasonic-Leica lens.

        Final unrelated comment, for anyone wanting to point out the GX1 and how it does not match my ‘innovate’ comment, I wholeheartedly agree. I still believe the GX1 is Panasonic’s attempt to “clear the old parts bin” before they start on new cameras.


    • Martin

      > Compared to Olympus camera making tradition Panny are the unwashed and it shows. They are not really making cameras for stills photographers, but for videographers and consumers…

      What a bunch of crap. Panasonic GH2 is by far the most advanced m43 camera made ESPECIALLY for photographers. Ergonomy & controls are simply much better than those of the Pens. Also some IQ attributes (DR, resolution) are better. The ONLY real advantage of the Pens is a generally better JPG engine. Yes, for some it is a big plus, but no need to make a holy grail of photography of it..

      • ProShooter

        Meh, Panasonic is lame and getting worse. Just look at very heavy lenses (often twice so than oly counterparts), the gf2 desaster, the lousy treatment of the gh2 sw and the far superior hack which they slammed and even down to the lame chipped batteries…

        Panasonic is simply a too greedy selfish company that releases obviously flawed products and the reason why oly has no better chips is probably because they don’t get any from panasonic and are bound by contract…

        In short: Panasonic is the bad guy here…

        • Martin

          > Meh, Panasonic is lame..

          So is Olympus. To a greater extent, though. When we want to be critical..

        • Nick Clark

          Very heavy lenses?

          • Frederic Hew

            Very heavy and too large as well… he must be referring to the new X lenses.

        • Sorry for you, dear ProShooter: Pana and Oly are just f—–g camera and lens producers, Neither of them worth love nor hate. Try to grow up!

      • Mr. Reeee

        You forgot two crucial photographic attributes that Olympus excels: retro design and pocketability. ;-)

        Arguably better JPEG processing and marginally useful IBIS are also touted as some sort of holy grail. Aside from that, Oly has produced mostly middling and duplicate lenses until the release of the excellent 12mm and 45mm.

        As far as camera bodies go, they seem stuck with their 1960s PEN concept. Cute cameras, and interesting, but never a big seller. And releasing minor cosmetic updates to essentially ONE camera body. Why after 3 years haven’t they produced a M4/3 body with a built-in EVF? They managed to do it with their 4/3 cameras. Panasonic managed to do it. Rumors point the possibility in a year or two!

        While Panasonic has pulled some truly stupid moves from a photographer’s standpoint… Dumbing down the GF series. I suppose they were trying to sell cameras to a broader audience, not just a sliver of enthusiasts. A real shame. They have made an effort to push the system forward with better lenses and varied body styles.

        • bilgy_no1

          “While Panasonic has pulled some truly stupid moves from a photographer’s standpoint… Dumbing down the GF series.”

          ‘Dumbing down’ consisted of leaving out a mode dial and replacing it with fast, fully functional and mostly optional use of a touch screeen. This thing got so much press in the webforums, even while a mode dial is mostly irrelevant to enthousiasts. Personally, I set the camera to A mode by default and change to S or M only if needed. And I guess this goes for many more people. Personally, I felt disappointed by the lack of sensor + processing improvement going from GF1 to GF2, as well as the fact that the EVF was not upgraded.

          Now we have a GX1 announcement with an upgraded sensor, upgraded EVF, no-doubt a host of other improvemens over the GF1, and a ‘proper’ Mode Dial! (and people b1tch about that one too…).

          • Mr. Reeee

            Maybe dumbing down is the wrong word. How about consumerized. ;-)

            Yes, the touch interface is quite well done and usable. My GH2 rarely leaves M mode. I guess many of us would like to have seen more physical controls on par with the GF1 and GH2 on the GF2. In other words, a true upgrade to the GF1.

            The complaints about the GX1 circle around the (apparent) lack of a built-in EVF and a fixed LCD, especially given it’s compact body design. Since none of us have any idea about the final specs or feature set, condemning it is premature.

            @ Nikku. I knew no one who owned a film PEN. These were mostly artists, photographers, designers, architects, etc.. Everyone I knew owned mostly Nikon and Canon, but some had Nikkormat, Pentax, Minolta or Konica SLRs. A few Hasselblads. Rollei 35s for fun. No PENs. I suppose they were popular with other types of people.

            • hlbt

              “I knew no one who owned a film PEN. […] suppose they were popular with other types of people.”

              Geography may have played a part. Perhaps they were popular in different parts of the world (or different parts of the country)?

          • dj

            WELL SAID bilgy_no1!!!!!! –the touch screen of the latest Panasonic cameras are what a lot of sophisticated photographers want–and if they dont want that then buy the GX1 loads of button–ah choice is good!

        • Nikku

          Reeee, the original Pen cameras were one of the biggest selling cameras of the era (over 17 million sold). Not sure why you’d say they were “never a big seller.”

      • Ahem

        Don’t feed the troll.

    • Do you mean GH2 firmware v1.0E leaked in July?

  • Well. Nikon never needed its own sensors to succeed. The problem for Olympus is that there is only one producer of 4/3 sensors. And yet they succeeded in making better Jpegs out of it than the owner.

    It makes one think LOL

    • Martin

      Yes. You really are obsessed with an Olympus JPG engine, we all know that.

      • Scotch


    • Zune

      You mean Olympus view, is better so Adobe camera RAW ?

  • Donutman

    Samsung is moving into the medical technology field in an aggressive and forceful way. Their strategy is to use their vast technological knowhow and enormous financial muscles to quickly create new products that are cheaper than the current alternatives, but technologically superior. They have done this before in several fields (e.g. TVs). Digital imaging is one of their least successful attempts.
    It is quite possible that they are targeting Olympus medical division, which is doing well and has a lot of knowhow but is left open to a hostile takeover through the recent scandal in combination with the economic downturn.
    The medical division really is Olympus nowadays. The camera division struggles and it is unlikely that Samsung can negotiate a deal to buy just the medical division, they will be forced to take over the whole company or leave it alone.

    • tofino

      I am sure Samsung is only interested in the medical division. Hostile takeovers are extremely rare in Japan and the BOD has a poison pill provision in place. Thus, Samsung will have to pay a premium if it wants Oly.

      • Ahem

        On the other hand, stock price has tanked so Olympus is relatively cheap now, and shareholders would probably be welcoming to the approach of any perceived savior.

        • tofino

          Just because the stock price is much less than it was doesn’t mean it is cheap. The buyer would also assume Oly’s debt, which is high. We don’t know about the poison pill provision, but it could also be very expensive.

  • Stepper

    I’m down with that.
    I have to admit, I like what Samsung has been doing lately but would probably never by one (just yet at least). But call me what you will, if you slap an Olympus badge on a Samsung product and I may reconsider.

  • om-4

    Having stock doesn’t mean Samsung can look in the kitchen.

  • observer

    >Olympus really outstanding JPEG engine…


    To be OBJECTIVE one have to be concerned with color FIDELITY NOT preference.

    Majority of camera makers go for color fidelity. Anyone of these companies would junk Oly jpeg engine as garbage should they acquire Oly but they won’t as there is little in Oly worth buying period.

    Why is Olympus jpeg colors so different from its RAW output? So arbitrary and if you like one you have to hate the other so you can only use one.

    Anyway jpeg compression is so lossy and outdated those who care for quality goes for the RAW.

    So Oly’s jpeg is for the Fanboys, it has nothing to do with quality. QED.

    • Will

      Remember when film existed, and every brand of film had a different color profile?

  • 설마…

    • Miroslav

      Само шпекулација за сада…

  • Il Oly was to disappear, Sony would quickly become n. 1 in the miorrorless sector. That alone shows the utter stupidity of those Panny consumers that wish so.

    Indeed, despite its financial problems BCN ranking show that Oly has been n.1 in Japan for months, exactly with those retro cameras that you despite but have the essential IBIS.

    I wish instead that Oly solves its internal organisation problems so that it can also finance and introduce a camera able of quickly AF its 4/3 lenses.

    If it was able to do so Sony would be left with a clumsy mirrorless system, while m4/3 would become unassailable.

    But even so Oly has introduced two of the best lenses for m4/3: the 12/2 and the 45mm.

    If it was to close down the Panny owners would be the first to suffer the loss. That shows very well how narrow sighted they are here.

    • Elf

      And always they were late to the party…….. Reminds me of their one year charade with the wooden mock up…. and If Panny hadn’t have come out with a mature product to begin with…..OLY’S slow autofocus and crippled bodies would have never survived. They’d have been stillborn and forgotten. Without Pany and their early lenses Oly would have done a major face plant.

      I know your an OLY fanboy Am But sometimes you just talk nonsense period.

      • DonParrot

        Yeah right – but while Panny left their FT customers out in the cold to fully focus on µFT, Oly originally had another strategy: to keep Ft alive for the ‘serious’ photographers, with the PENs being an additional lifestyle product. This admittedly was a misjudgement but things like this can happen – as has been demonstrated by the fact that Nikon entered the MILC market far too late and Canion still haven’t made their first move – or by Sony’s and Samsung’s decision for APS-C/DX sensors for their mirrorless cameras.

        So, Oly had to catch up more than a year or even two to close the gap to panny – and as I see it, they did extremely well. Currently, Panny’s lead has been reduced to just two areas. The admittedly somewhat better sensor and the better video performance that Oly doesn’t care about. This winter, the was an Oly senior (I don’t remember who but I could have been Terada) saying that Oly still regard themselves as makers of still cameras and that for them, video is just an addition of minor importance.

  • AlexV

    Probably Samsung will transfer the knowledge about 4/3 & m4/3 before to close de Camera Dept., a classic in corp. merging

    • Mr. Reeee

      The Olympus camera name has a LOT more brand recognition and value than Samsung.

    • To be late to the party for a camera maker that prides on excellency is nothing. Leica is still late to the party, and commands an awful lot of money per unit.

      People like you forget that Oly at some point in history decided to compete with Leica with optics as good, at a fraction of the price. That is their main merit, so it’s not a matter of being a fanboy.

      As I said I wish they sorted out their financial problems so that they could go unfettered in designing lenses and true photographic tools. The same I’d wish for Leica, or other no compromise brands.

      • RW

        Leica isn’t really late to the party. They aren’t interested in competing head to head with Panoly in the consumer market, and to do so isn’t in the best interests of their luxury product strategy. The only reason that we even discuss them here is because their M series is also mirrorless, and many people here dream that m43 lenses and IQ will one day be comparable to Leica’s based on the technology similarities.

        • RW

          Actually – just to challenge my own post, Leica has recently stated that they will be releasing a *new* mirrorless system in the future that is situated at a price point below their M system – so in that sense they are definitely late to the party. They have already sent an RSVP, even if they haven’t arrived yet.

  • No doubt both Oly and Pana will be around making cameras and lenses for many years.
    For Samsung it could be good using the strong Oly brand for their photo division, not to speak about the excellent competence at Oly product development dept.
    For Pana: How long will they limit themselves to poin-and-shoot + m4/3? My gues they need to enter FF or similar rather soon. The company is huge and the photo division is probably expected to be huge as well.

    • DonParrot

      For Pana: How long will they limit themselves to poin-and-shoot + m4/3? My gues they need to enter FF or similar rather soon. The company is huge and the photo division is probably expected to be huge as well.

      Why should anybody opt for entering the FF market today. It’s a small niche today, and it will shrink more and more, in the future. It would be an economically extremely stupid move and the only reason to do so would be to gain reputation.

      • mooboy

        We could change your post to the below and it would make as much sense:

        “Why should anybody opt for entering the 43 market today. It’s a small niche today, and it will shrink more and more, in the future. It would be an economically extremely stupid move and the only reason to do so would be to gain reputation.”

        No matter how much sensor technology improves, a larger sensor will always be able to capture more light. That’s why, as great as some FF sensors are today, we will still have medium format cameras.

        I’ve got a FF camera and a 43 camera… the 43 camera is a trade off. I’m sure one day they can make a 43 sensor as clean as my current FF one, but when that day comes, imagine how great the FF ones will be.

        This of course, ignores all the optics and things like extremely shallow DOF FF offers compared with 43. I’m not bashing 43s, I think it’s a capable system and love the size and weight of it… but with the exception of GH2 for video, you’re generally sacrificing features and quality compared to FF DSLRs.

        Personally, I think APS-C SLRs deserve to die and seem to be worst kind of trade off… but that’s just me.

  • David Bateman

    Samsung has the money to buy Olympus. Samsung is more than just a camera company and so is Olympus. We here are fixated on the camera division, but if Samsung bought out Olympus they might just close it all down. Its very small part the the package and its just loosing money. Buying out Olympus get you into the medical division and the microscopes. two areas that are making money and areas were Samsung is very weak in.

    I would welcome a Samsung buy out. Hope for Olympus lenses in the next generation of Galaxy S phones. Also would hope that they kept the M43rds or 43rds divisions. But wouldn’t expect it. Something else might be born, like the rumor of the Samsung digital medium format camera for months back on the Mirrorless sight. That would be more interesting to me, especially with Olympus lenses.

  • Disraeli

    “Its very small part the the package and its just loosing money”

    this isnt true
    it isnt as you put it *very small*, but it is mismanaged. If it had the funding for marketing and hardware it deserves it would do better, just as it has done in Japan on a shoestring.

    IMO buying a company to send 30% of it to the breakers is dumb

    • narutogrey

      Buying a company and shutting down 30% of it is certainly NOT dumb. Many successful takeovers usually result in shutting down 20-25% of the existing business due to overlap and redundancies. Usually the final count is much higher than 30% once everything is settled. Also, shutting down 30% of it’s business doesn’t mean they lose 30% of the takeover value. By shutting it down, they can sell off the assets and recuperate much of that money or potentially more than they paid for it considering the Olympus has many valuable assets and the money they would save by cutting their expensive engineers.

  • William Castañeda

    And LG! I know they don´t make sensors, but its a very succesfull company, and they don´t make cameras .

  • Will

    Olympus need not bother with press releases if they will continue to say things like “The past acquisitions mentioned in the media were handled with the appropriate evaluations and procedures. These transactions were in no way improper…”.

    No one believes that. I’d go so far as to say that it appears to many to be a bold lie. So the very existence of such a press release is just another sign that the company is in trouble.

    We’ll know the company is ok when they release a press release saying that they became beholden to the yakuza in 2008 — re: — and made several legal but unethical transactions intended to fund the yakuza, but are now taking steps to remove all such influence from the company.

  • If they would buy a majority share of Oly, would that give the Samsung access to Oly’s tech?

    If not the trademark, the Oly’s patents and know-how might prove useful to Samsung.

    Considering Oly’s debt, I doubt Samsung would think of buying out the Oly completely.

  • dj

    too bad Samsung didnt join m4/3 then there could be some sharing going on

  • There is a simpler consideration: Samsung is isolated by Japanese companies which have cut it out from the affluent Japanese market. Therefore it might want to use Olympus as a Trojan horse.

    I heard that Oly has a world monopoly on endoscopes, so entering that captive market might be the main attraction.

    Camera wise I see a problem: Samsung is APS and Oly 4/3. Oly is probably the best company for camera optics, but it restricted itself to a smaller format. So there is really no complementarity, except if Samsung wanted to run two concurrent systems, which makes little sense.

    OTH the mirrorless landscape is rapidly shifting: not only the second Pentax system is coming, but also Fuji, Leica – Sony perhaps attempting a FF.

    Pretty confusing, and risky. OTH 4/3 is optimised for small cameras, so I’d stick with it – we see what problems Sony has in developing lenses for a bigger sensor.

    I am very curious now to see what Fuji, Pentax and Leica’s choices will be, because they have had a long photographic competence.

    Samsung is running against some great odds, Oly is much more entrenched.

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