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Sony to do what Apple can't: Remove its batteries - sources

Bankers keen to chop off energy arm and sell it

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Sony is considering selling off its battery business, Sony Energy Devices, and at least three investment banks have offered to help.

Getting the biz on the market would help the stumbling entertainment giant to cut costs and give it some cash to put towards its restructuring, sources muttered in the general direction of Reuters.

The unit formerly known as Sony Eveready employs 2,700 people, and had sales last year of $1.74bn, but Sony said it wants to focus on gaming, digital imaging and new businesses such as medical devices.

To restructure and streamline, Sony will cut 10,000 staff from across its empire, close some of its facilities and offload units including its chemical business.

Anyone willing to purchase Sony Energy Devices is likely to be a foreign buyer since Japan's other top electronics firms are also struggling against a strong yen and a global disinterest in big-ticket gear. Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly popular, but competition is fierce and margins are low.

But the Japanese government may stall a sale to a foreign company; it usually prefers to broker deals between the nation's companies and banks to keep everything within its borders.

Sony said in April that it would consider "possible alliances" in the battery market, but hasn't said anything publicly about selling the energy business. ®

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