JIP: Will it go the “Vaio” route or will it just sell the business?

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The German magazin Photografix analyzed the activity of JIP. In most cased JIP resold the companies that they bought. A few examples:

  • SII Micro Parts Co., Ltd. (2003 – 2007)
  • Rakuten KC Co., Ltd. (2004 – 2005)
  • Laserfornt Technologies, Inc. (2004 – 2007)
  • ITX Corp. (2012 – 2015)
  • BIGLOBE, Inc. (2014 – 2016)
  • VAIO Ltd. (2014 – ?)
  • KM Aluminium Co., Ltd. (2015 – ?)

The interesting news is that JIP also had bought Olympus Smartphone division “ITX” in 2012. They sold it three years after. Photografix believes there is a chance that JIP will handle the Imaging Division like the Vaio division: Make it slim, outsource production to lower the costs, and maybe Olympus will still have a small remaining stake in this business.

But there could be also this darker scenario:

Doug Janis summed up the (possible?) dark truth about JIP, the company that is going to buy the Olympus camera business. Warning: I don’t know what’s going to happen and I have no elements to say if what Doug is writing here is correct. But my feeling is that in those days it’s a better bet to believe in “rumors” than in company statements :(

Doug writes:

JIP is worth US$150 million.

YoY Olympus Imaging (its camera wing) is losing US$156 million.

JIP specializes in taking under-performing assets and parsing them out. They are not a turnaround company. In Japan, it’s extremely expensive to downsize employees and pensions and salaries. So companies like JIP exist to take assets and sell them apart from those obligations.

In the last 5 years JIP has sold off assets of over 14 companies. Not one has it ever restructured or continued development. It doesn’t have the capital. JIP exists solely to manage brands for the benefit of shared agreements with shareholders. That’s why VAIO is 10% owned by Sony and why JIP outsources all design and manufacture to Chinese parts bin suppliers for components. JIP has no R&D, no internal development, no engineers, nothing. They are accountants.

They are a vulture fund of privately owned equity partners designed to get around Japanese pension, retention, and servicing laws.

This is very bad news for the Olympus brand and its invested customers. The Japanese news is all over this as well because JIP is notorious for Chinese outsourcing at a time when it’s official domestic policy to onshore key industries. This is another example of Olympus having a tin ear.

In Japan apparently most external sales staff (non-Japanese) have been let go. This started months ago. Most of the software, design, and optical engineers have left or are moving to medical imaging. Overseas assembly plants are being quietly shopped for real estate value alone. The glazing kilns are shutting down for consumer Imaging. The company is preparing to only sell from inventory. New products are technically on hold until Olympus figures out how much to pay JIP to take these losses off their hands. Olympus Visionaries in some countries have already been told they must stick to NDAs and there is no marketing budget nor equipment available.

That’s right. The news out of Japan is that this is NOT a sale, but a divestment at loss. Olympus will have to pay JIP to take Imaging, basically giving them the consumer patent portfolio in exchange. The reason for the press release is Olympus has to divulge now that it will be paying cash for JIP to take the assets. That warns shareholders. This was NOT about the loyal consumer. Anyone who thinks this is a deep pockets investor seeking a new product line, or this is an “under new management” improvement needs to know exactly what JIP is as a company. They exist to help Olympus get rid of their consumer Imaging portfolio entirely.

This is likely the end of Olympus and Zuiko. The Japanese inside information is much more revealing than the web-based stories in English media. You have to go to the accounting and engineering boards in Japan to hear the dirt.

I now have a small rationale hope and a crazy hope:

  • The small rational hope is that Panasonic and the other MFT consortium members will still be fully committed to MFT.
  • The crazy hope is that Olympus at the end will decide to NOT sell the imaging business to JIP.

Thanks Doug for the nice writing and Mistral for sharing

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Olympus statement: “opportunity to enable our imaging business to grow and delight both longtime and new photography enthusiasts”

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Olympus UK released the following statement:

Today the Olympus Imaging Business has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (JIP). According to the MOU, both companies are entering into further discussions about the potential transfer of Olympus’ long-standing imaging business to JIP by the end of 2020.

JIP is a strong investment fund with a track record of success and has maximised the growth of many brands. JIP will use the innovative technologies and solid brand position of Olympus within the market, while also improving the profit structure of Olympus’s imaging business.

We understand you may have many questions, all of which we will work to answer in the upcoming weeks. We ask for your patience: we believe this is the right step to preserve our brand’s legacy, the products, and the value of our technology. Olympus sees this potential transfer as an opportunity to enable our imaging business to grow and delight both longtime and new photography enthusiasts. Olympus and JIP will continue discussions, and we are committed to providing full transparency about our intentions as the plans solidify.

We are grateful to all our customers for their loyalty and support for our products, and their passion for photography. During the ongoing discussions, Olympus Imaging will operate with business as usual: we will continue to work on innovative initiatives for our customers and we will launch new products as planned.

For the full statement, please tap through here: www.olympus-global.com/news/2020/nr01695.html

43rumors note: Sorry to say that I do NOT see opportunity to grow. My only hope now is in Panasonic. Lets get this nice GH6 :)

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Reminder: Use our checkout code “RUMOR” to get an additional 15% discount on all TOPAZ products

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You can use our checkout code “RUMOR” to get an additional 15% discount on all TOPAZ products (Click here). This is what you save on the single products:

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It happened: Olympus wants to sell the Imaging Business to JIP. 84 years of history gone :(

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This is a news that changes everything. Olympus plans to sell the camera business to JIP. Olympus might retain a very small stake in the new company that will be created by JIP. But I doubt JIP will continue the Micro Four Thirds business as usual. As reported by our reader Mistral:

Japan Industrial Partners are a Japanese private equity fund specializing in restructuring / turnaround situations. They buy loss-making businesses, strive to make them profitable and, once done, resell them to corporate acquirers.
To give an example: they bought Sony’s PC business (Vaio).

Here is the press text:

News Release
Company: Olympus Corporation Yasuo Takeuchi, Director, Representative Executive Officer, President and CEO (Code: 7733, First Section, Tokyo Stock Exchange)
Company: Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. Hidemi Moue, CEO

Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Divestiture of Imaging Business

Olympus Corporation (“Olympus”) and Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (“JIP”) hereby announce that, today, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding to carveout Olympus’s Imaging business to a new company (“NewCo”) and subsequently transfer its shares to a fund managed, operated or otherwise handled by JIP (the “Transaction”).
After the due diligence and further discussions and negotiations, the parties are aiming to sign a legally- binding definitive agreement for the Transaction (the “Definitive Agreement”) by September 30, 2020. We will promptly make further announcement if any matters relating to the Transaction that needs further announcement occur.

1. Background and Purpose of the Transaction
Olympus’s Imaging business began with the manufacture and sale of a camera using the photographic
lens Zuiko in 1936. Through innovative technology and unique product development capabilities, Olympus has developed and launched various products, aiming to contribute to make people’s lives more fulfilling. Those products include: Olympus Pen, the innovative half-sized camera; Zuiko Pearlcorder, the world’s first micro-cassette tape recorder; and Olympus OM-D series, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.
Olympus has implemented measures to cope with the extremely severe digital camera market, due to, amongst others, rapid market shrink caused by the evolution of smartphones; Olympus has improved the cost structure by restructuring the manufacturing bases and focusing on high-value-added interchangeable lenses, aiming to rectify the earning structure to those that may continue generating profit even as sales dwindles. Despite all such efforts, Olympus’s Imaging business recorded operating losses for 3 consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.
Under such circumstances, Olympus considers that, by carving-out the Imaging business and by operating the business with JIP, the Imaging business’s corporate structure may become more compact, efficient and agile and it is the most appropriate way to realize its self-sustainable and continuous growth and to bring values to the users of our products as well as our employees working in the Imaging business. Olympus therefore has decided to sign the memorandum of understanding for the Transaction.

JIP has strong track records in supporting strategic carve-outs that realize growth potential and encourage autonomous growth. By adding support from JIP, the NewCo, as the successor of reputable brands such as “OM-D” and “ZUIKO,” will utilize the innovative technology and unique product development capabilities which have been developed within Olympus, and will realize continuous growth of the business by bringing better products and services to the users and customers and by making itself a productive and rewarding work place for its employees.

Imaging Business after the Transaction
NewCo will succeed and maintain the research and development functions and manufacturing functions globally as reformed under the contemplated structuring reforms to continue to offer high-quality, highly reliable products; and also continue to provide supports to the imaging solution products that have been distributed by Olympus.
Outline of the Transaction
The specifics of the Transaction shall be decided in the Definitive Agreement after careful examination and consultation between the parties. The parties currently consider the outline of the Transaction shall be as follows.
The parties will proceed with the actions and procedures for Transactions in full compliance with applicable laws including consultation obligations and other requirements under local employment laws.

Structuring Reform
Prior to the closing of the Transaction, Olympus plans to implement structuring reforms to the Imaging
business aiming to change the business structure of Imaging business to be more profitable and sustainable. We are currently investigating costs and other impacts of the structuring reform. If any future event which requires disclosure arises, Olympus will announce it promptly.
(1) Structure
(2) Signing of

Definitive Agreement
(3) Closing
: (i) Olympus’s Imaging business will be transferred to the NewCo by way of company split or otherwise, and then, (ii) shares in the NewCo will be transferred to a new company to be established by JIP.
: Scheduled to be signed by September 30, 2020
: Olympus and JIP strive to close the Transaction by December 31, 2020.
Contact:
Olympus Corporation, Investor Relations: TEL.03-3340-2111 Japan Industrial Partners, Inc.: TEL.03-6266-5781

——

43rumors note: Micro Four Thirds will continue, JIP and Panasonic will still keep making MFT products. But having Olympus out of the picture is a major blow anyway. This is a very sad day for the entire industry

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Press text: Panasonic Launches the LUMIX G100, its Newest Mirrorless Camera for Vlogging and Creative Video Content

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Preorders: G100 at BHphoto. Amazon. Adorama. FocusCamera.

Panasonic Launches the LUMIX G100, its Newest Mirrorless Camera for Vlogging and Creative Video Content

The compact, feature-packed camera features high sound quality produced by OZO Audio by Nokia

Newark, NJ – Panasonic today launched the LUMIX G100, a new Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera designed and developed for creating high-quality, versatile content.

Intuitive controls, visually engaging images and excellent sound quality are hallmarks of the new LUMIX G100, raising the bar for content production and user experience in the vlog camera category. Usability is further enhanced by its remarkably compact and lightweight design that doesn’t skimp on functionality and creative options.

  1. The Logical Next Step from your Smartphone

With their limited sensor size and optics, a Smartphone can only take your creativity so far, the LUMIX G100 uses a smartphone crushing 4/3rds sensor that records smooth, high-resolution QFHD 4K videos in 3840 x 2160 resolution at 30p or 24p in MP4*1 and Full-HD at 60p. The five-axis hybrid I.S. (image stabilizer)*2 in the LUMIX G100 provides effective shake suppression essential for capturing stable, easy-to-see video in scenarios such as walking or in a moving vehicle. In addition, the new Video Selfie Mode easily captures both the videographer and background in crisp focus without adjustments of aperture that changes with the lens each time.

Adopting a static-type touch control system, the 3.0-inch free-angle rear monitor with 1,840K-dot high resolution makes it easy to compose selfies as well as shots from a high or low angle. Convenient shooting assist functions allow the Frame Maker to check the composition during recording in various popular aspect ratios such as 16:9, 4:3, 1:1, 4:5, 5:4 and 9:16. The REC Frame Indicator displays an eye-catching red frame so that videographers can recognize whether the camera is recording or not at a glance.

*1 Recording stops when the continuous recording time exceeds 10 minutes with [MP4] in [4K]

*2 When using an interchangeable lens (H-FS12032) released before this camera, update the firmware of the lens to the latest version

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      2. High Sound Quality Supported by OZO Audio Technologies

The LUMIX G100 integrates OZO Audio by Nokia for high-quality spatial audio recording, a first for a Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera.* Engineered for universal playback and shareability across the world’s most popular social media platforms, the OZO Audio enables users to capture and edit the full richness of sonic life with vibrant accuracy and precision. It sets a new standard in innovative audio solutions for user-generated content. Three microphones record clear, vibrant sound with outstanding images, for example a dynamic landscape with immersive, realistic sound; interviews with clear speech; or easy, on-the-scene coverage by the videographer with easy mode selection. Combining Panasonic and Nokia OZO Audio technologies, the LUMIX G100 also offers a tracking feature that continues tracking the voice of the subject. Auto mode automatically recognizes the best setting and switches between tracking and surround modes.

* For a digital interchangeable lens system camera, as of June 24, 2020.

3. High Potential and Unlimited Expression

The new LUMIX G100 integrates a 20.3MP MOS Sensor without Low Pass Filter, which features higher resolution and a larger size than found in smartphones. Realizing maximum ISO 25600 high sensitivity, even images captured at night or low light are clear. In addition, the large sensor enables beautiful defocusing in the background, and the Venus Engine assures high-speed, high-performance image processing. Impressive 4x*/2x slow and 8x/4x/2x quick FHD motion footage and time lapse shots are captured with ease.

Advanced videographers will appreciate the V-LogL recording capability; users can apply the LUT (Look Up Table) of their choice on the recorded V-LogL footage via a PC to create a differentiated video with subtle colors and moods.

Features such as the 4K technology, along with the 3,680K-dot equivalent center-aligned viewfinder, allow users to capture 4K PHOTO shots, excelling in performance and function for photo shooting. Able to save spontaneous shots by just selecting the frame out of a burst file sequence, users will never miss a moment.

*30p only

4. Easy Connectivity via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI

The LUMIX G100 integrates Bluetooth and Wi-Fi® 2.4GHz (IEEE802.11b/g/n) connectivity to offer a more flexible shooting experience and easy instant image sharing. A dedicated upload button controls video and photo transfer to a smartphone via Panasonic’s LUMIX Sync app for iOS / Android. Users can also use their smartphone as a remote control to capture video and photo.

Compatibility with Bluetooth 4.2 (called BLE: Bluetooth Low Energy) enables constant connection with a smartphone/tablet with minimum power consumption and can activate the camera by using a smartphone/tablet or automatically add geotagging photos.

HDMI*1 allows video output via The LUMIX G100, or it can be used as a webcam that provides exceptional image quality with rich depth of field and high quality sound for streaming in combination with an HDMI video capture device.*2

*1 It is not possible to stream live in 4K. While using the HDMI output function, video cannot be recorded.

*2 A separate streaming software for PC is required.

5. Compact, Lightweight Design Even with Tripod Grip

Despite its high performance and selection creative functions, the LUMIX G100 is portable, compact and weighs only 412 g, even with the LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S.(H-FS12032) lens. A new Tripod Grip DMW-SHGR1*4 makes it even easier to hold the camera or can be used as a compact tripod. Connecting with the camera via USB allows the user to start/stop video recording, release the shutter and enable/disable sleep mode. The camera’s battery can be recharged either via AC or USB according to the user’s convenience.

*4 Tripod Grip is bundled in DC-G100V kit. It is also sold separately.

 

Tripod Grip (DMW-SHGR1)

A compact, lightweight handgrip / mini tripod allowing start/stop video recording and shutter release via USB connection.

Compatibility: DC-G100, GH5*,GH5S*,G9*, G95** and G85*

*Firmware update of the camera is required. It connects to the remote terminal of the camera using a bundled conversion cable. Sleep button cannot be used.

 

The LUMIX G100 will be available for sale at the end of July.

Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.

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