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Sony seeks underwriter for Ericsson 'split'

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Sony is reportedly in talks to buy out Ericsson from the cooperative deal that led to the creation of Sony Ericsson in 2001, assuming the Japanese giant can get the cash together.

The report comes from Manager-Magazin.de (in German) and claims that Sony is talking to bankers about borrowing enough money to buy out Ericsson and take full control of the company.

The combined companies have produced some innovative handsets, with Ericsson providing the radio knowledge and Sony the consumer-electronics experience. But the last 12 months have not been good, and given the way radio technology has become commoditised, the necessity of having an expert like Ericsson involved is much reduced.

Sony has always been the more visible partner, controlling the Cybershot and Walkman brands, the former of which particularly still commands considerable respect thanks to the strong hold Sony has always exercised over devices bearing either moniker - often to the frustration of Sony Ericsson.

Ericsson's primary business is network infrastructure - that market is pretty flat at the moment but the company is still the world's largest manufacturer of network equipment, with handsets being something of a sideline.

Still, rumours of a split are almost as old as the cooperative deal itself, so it's not clear how much credence should be given to this latest report, even if it would appear a sensible move on the surface. ®

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