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Industry News: Olympus to sell imaging business by the end of the year

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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 a further announcement if any matters relating to the Transaction that needs further announcement to 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 making 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 workplace for its employees.

2. 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.

3. 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.


  • Olympus’s Imaging business will be transferred to the NewCo by way of company split or otherwise, and then, shares in the NewCo will be transferred to a new company to be established by JIP.
  • Signing of Definitive Agreement: Scheduled to be signed by September 30, 2020
  • Closing: Olympus and JIP strive to close the Transaction by December 31, 2020.

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.

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
Some of the early Olympus digital point and shoot cameras in the 1990's were great cameras for the time. Then, they seem to have lost their way. I wonder if a private equity fund can convince photographers that they are in business for the long haul.

I expect more camera manufacturers will fail this year.
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Jun 29, 2017
I still don't know what Olympus's unique selling point is (was). But betting on small format without anything unique hastened their doom. I will however give them credit for their wonderful OM cameras and lenses from yore.

Olympus has been an innovator when it comes to professional imaging in all-weather, or water proof designs. I am currently working to adapt their weather-sealed macro flash for use on my Canon bodies, because no one else has bothered to make such a system.
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Jul 31, 2019
Olympus briefly had a following with scuba divers and some birders

More of companies may exit the market in the next year or so.
I’m glad I stuck with canon at this point
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Sep 26, 2017
Madison, WI
So once JIP or NewCo gets the camera division, what will Olympus have left?
industrial applications, mostly various microscopes, borehole scopes, etc.

On the medical side they are one of the primary most well used supplier of endoscopes and the tools that support them. Very valuable.
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Sep 29, 2018
A sad day for the Olympus fans and less competition is never a good thing. Given the state of the camera buisness this did have the feel of inevitability. I wonder who will end up buying the corpse.
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If only I knew what I was doing.....
CR Pro
Sep 8, 2012
Dang! Got an Oly Tough about a year ago to replace my well used Canon D10. Figured it was time for a more versatile little camera to use on the beach and in the water with he grandkids. Serves the purpose, can do RAW (with some menus) and yields "OK" IQ. Never gonna use this as a replacement for my DSLR but it is good for what I need.
The sadder issue is the potential loss of the Micro 43 format.


May 9, 2019
One of the reasons I'm on the Canon train is that they seem likely survive industry consolidation.
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Feb 4, 2015
Rocklin, CA/The Sea Ranch, CA
I know a bunch of Oly shooters that are loving the lenses and Micro 43 format for bird photography and some macro work. Seems to be a great little set up especially for some of the older members of the group as it is a very light setup and seems to work better than my Fuji XT3 setup.

I will talk to them in a few weeks and see what their reaction is. I am sure it is not a big impact in the short run but I am sure they will be sad to see no future roadmap for most of the products.


CR Pro
Sep 4, 2012
Eastern Shore
Some new bargains are likely on eBay and maybe even some good sales on new but terminal equipment. As long as you don’t require a path forward from here there could be some useful items.


CR Pro
Mar 22, 2012
Olympus - yes sad to see. They made beautiful looking cameras. I've had a few and they look great.
The lens tend to be excellent. Lovely and small.
They just couldn't get around the limits of a micro 4/3 sensor.
They were innovative with their pro mode and moving sensor. Focusing was also pretty good.
Camera's and lens are small and compact (except the E-MX).
I've just about used all systems at this stage and their menu system was by far the worse. Too many options, simple things too hidden in the menu system.
The sensor just counted cope with medium to high ISO. They seemed unable to produce a better one.
When you see what phones can do with a smaller sensor they probably could have done better.
For sure useful for travelling. If the price collapses I might be tempted to get an OM-D E- M1 Mark II or Mark III(that's another thing - crazy naming system - you couldn't even tell another photographer what camera you had).

I have a soft spot for them but I think they never got over their financial scandal
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Dec 17, 2013
They heard I sold my Pen F and that was the last straw.

M43, nice knowing you, well...not that nice.Talk about phones replacing cameras, THIS is the format for that.

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
CR Pro
Aug 9, 2018
I know many will "hate" me, but I never could get used to the OM 1-2 cameras. Having focus, aperture and shutter settings in one plane was for me an ergonomic nightmare. Lenses were great, though.
The mft digitals are an ergonomic catastrophe as well.
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