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Japan's Sony to sell Olympus stake for $763 million

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp <6758.T> said on Thursday it would sell its 5% stake in Olympus Corp <7733.T> back to the Japanese endoscope maker for 80.4 billion yen (621.39 million pounds), a move that was called for by Daniel Loeb’s activist hedge fund Third Point LLC.

Sony will sell 68.9 million Olympus shares at Thursday’s closing price of 1,165 yen.

Sony bought 11.5% of Olympus in 2012, in a much-needed cash injection for the latter after an accounting scandal sent Olympus’ share price plummeting. Sony later halved its stake to finance its own restructuring.

Loeb, one of the world’s highest-profile activist investors, has called on Sony to spin off its semiconductor business and sell off stakes in Sony Financial and other non-core assets, in order to position itself as a leading global entertainment company.

A Sony spokeswoman said the sale was not in response to Third Point’s demand.

Sony has decided to sell “considering that the initial purpose of the capital alliance to establish collaboration between Sony and Olympus has been accomplished and after reviewing the rationale for owning the Olympus shares,” it said in a statement.

Sony and Olympus established a medical equipment joint venture in 2013 to develop high-definition endoscopes.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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