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Sony's troubled TV division not up for sale, says CEO

But Kazuo Hirai does say that he would consider taking on an equity partner for Sony's TV business.

Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony's consumer products and services group, unveils the Sony Entertainment Network at IFA in Berlin.
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai Stephen Shankland/CNET

Sony will soon spin off its TV business, but that is not the first step to a sale, CEO Kazuo Hirai cautioned investors and reporters in Japan on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Hirai said that while he's not interested in shuttering or selling Sony's television division, he would take on an equity partner to share in the division's growth and risk.

"I wouldn't rule out the possibility of an equity tie-up, but right now we are not doing business under the assumption that would happen," Hirai said at the conference, according to Reuters, which was in attendance at the event.

Sony's TV business has been a thorn in Hirai's side since he became CEO in 2012. At that time, the TV business was hemorrhaging cash and many investors had called on Hirai to sell the division. He rebuffed those calls, saying that the division could be fixed.

Since then, Sony's TV division has continued to struggle, forcing the company to announce recently that it would spin off the segment into a separate, wholly owned subsidiary called Sony Visual Products That changeover is expected to occur within the next few months.

Not surprisingly, the spin-off has sparked more calls from investors to sell the TV division. Hirai again turned his back on those calls on Thursday saying that he's "not thinking about selling our TV operations or shutting them down or anything like that."

Hirai didn't say whether any specific company might be willing to take some equity in Sony Visual Products, but the division's struggles might cause some would-be partners to take pause. Hirai said on Thursday that Sony's hopes of selling 16 million TV units might not be borne out, as many investors and analysts have claimed, but he attempted to reassure them by putting into place mechanisms to minimize the impact a shortfall might have on his company.

CNET has contacted Sony for additional comment on Sony Visual Products and any plans it has for the company. We will update this story when we have more information.