Sony to Raise $2.5 Billion by Listing Its Financial Unit

Sony will raise about 300 billion yen (US$2.5 billion) by listing its financial unit and aims to use the funds to improve its core electronics operations, the Nikkei business daily reported on

The paper said Sony would sell at least 30% of the stake in Sony Financial Holdings, which includes its life insurance and banking arms, in the autumn in what will likely be Japan's biggest initial public offering this year.

Shares in Sony rose in early morning trade, largely in line with the broader market. Sony had said it aimed to list its financial unit in the business year that started on April 1 or after that, but a company spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report on Thursday.

Sony Financial Holdings will have a market value of at least 1 trillion yen, and the offer price will be decided via a book-building process, the paper said. Sony has already made a tentative application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the paper said. A spokesman at the bourse declined to comment.

The financial unit generated 7% of the group's revenue and 29% of operating profit in April-December 2006.

Sony plans to use the proceeds from the IPO to boost its electronics business such as by adding production equipment and developing flat-panel televisions and other products, it said.

Sony has invested aggressively in liquid crystal display (LCD) technology to compete with the likes of Matsushita Electric Industrial and Sharp in the flat TV market and is now the world's largest LCD TV player.

It has also said it plans to start selling ultra-thin TVs using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology this year.