As reported a few months ago, Olympus is continuing with their plan of selling the imaging business. A press release circulated today ads some more detail about the transactions required for the transfer of this unit to JIP. Essentially, Olympus and JIP each created a new legal corporate entity. Olympus will transfer their imaging to the new company and they will sell 95% of it to a new company created and owned by JIP.
The novel information in this announcement is that Olympus will keep 5% of the imaging business. This small holding is insufficient to exercise control but sufficient to have their voice heard. This is a slightly better outlook than previously speculated. The remainder of the release is there to reassure customers that Olympus Image Products will continue to be developed and supported at the time of the transaction. They cannot make assurances beyond that point, so it is only of minor comfort.
Understandably this news causing more fear in an already battered market. While cellphones started the decline of the camera industry, the global pandemic drove it into the ground and Olympus is too small to withstand this turn of events. JIP is a conglomerate with no imaging experience and is likely to run the company through an optimization process that sorts out profitable products and discontinues the rest. There will probably be Olympus cameras and lenses for some time but expect development to slow down significantly and low-level offers to disappear quickly from the market.