TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp is in talks with investment fund Japan Industrial Partners to sell its loss-making Vaio personal computer division, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
A new company would be set up by Japan Industrial Partners to take over the Vaio brand's operations in Japan, according to the plan under consideration, the source said. Financial details and stakeholdings in the new entity were still being discussed.
Sony is also considering a withdrawal from overseas PC markets, the source added.
Sales of traditional PCs are slowing as smartphones and tablets gain popularity. Worldwide PC shipments are forecast to total 278 million units in 2014, down 7 percent from 2013, according to research firm Gartner.
Mobile phones are expected to dominate overall device shipments, with 1.9 billion mobile phones shipped in 2014, a 5 percent increase from 2013, Gartner said.
The Nikkei business daily reported that the Vaio PC unit would be sold for up to 50 billion yen ($493 million) and that Sony would retain only a small stake in the new company.
The sale of the PC business would lead to disposal losses that would push Sony into a net loss for the first time in two years for the year ending March 31, the Nikkei said. The Japanese consumer electronic firm is due to report quarterly results on Thursday.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Saturday that Chinese technology company Lenovo Group was in talks about a possible joint venture to take over Sony's loss-making PC business overseas.
($1 = 101.3950 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Dominic Lau and Richard Pullin)