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Sony mulls purchase of Renesas chip plant, report says

The company is interested in acquiring Renesas' LSI chip production facility and converting it to a CMOS sensor facility.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Sony might acquire a chip plant in Japan that has heretofore been used to produce large-scale-integration (LSI) chips -- assuming it can find a way to change the facility's focus.

Sony executives have toured a Renesas Electronics plant in Japan to determine if it's a worthy acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the discussions between the companies. Before Sony puts in an offer, however, the company wants to see how difficult it would be to convert the facility into a CMOS production plant.

Renesas has been in a world of trouble over the past few years as its business has declined at the hands of stiff competition in the chip-making business. Renesas announced plans earlier this year to close its Tsuruoka plant in Japan to cut costs. The company has been building LSI chips at the facility for use in several consumer electronics. According to the Wall Street Journal report, Nintendo has been one of its longtime customers, but a recent decline in sales on Wii consoles has hurt its operation.

For Sony, acquiring the facility comes down to whether the equipment at the Tsuruoka plant can be converted easily to build CMOS image sensors. According to the Wall Street Journal's sources, the image sensors would be sold off to smartphone makers and, ostensibly, camera producers. Sony also might integrate the sensors into its products.

According to the Wall Street Journal's sources, the talks between Sony and Renesas are still in initial phases and any hiccup along the way could scuttle the deal.

CNET has contacted Sony for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.