Sony and Samsung head for medtech dust-up

A medical device industry rivalry is brewing between two corporate mega-titans, and they likely aren't the ones you'd expect: Sony and Samsung.

Sony, the global consumer electronics giant based in Japan, and its Korean rival, Samsung, are each devoting significant cash during the second half of 2012 toward building their presence in the medical device and technology spaces, The Korea Times reports.

The article notes Sony's plans, for example, to grow its medical business into a $1.25 billion annual cash cow. One way to get there will be Sony's apparent plans to make a significant investment into Olympus ($OCPNY), which is perhaps better known for its cameras but is also the world's largest manufacturer of endoscopes and related equipment. Sony is also investing in subsidiary Sony Entertainment, the story notes, in order to take direct control of M3, a medical service provider that's part of the division. Sony had been rumored for months to be planning an investment in Olympus, which is still reeling from a massive accounting scandal last year and needs the cash infusion. (Speculation has also focused on Olympus seeking investment from other rivals, including a possible merger with Terumo.)

Samsung, in turn, snatched up medical equipment maker Medison in recent months and renamed it Samsung Medison. Interestingly, the story notes, the division is now hungry for magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography-focused companies and has also beefed up its presence by absorbing disparate overseas subsidiaries. A Samsung spokesman acknowledged to The Korea Times that the company is looking at a number of possible expansion routes for medical technology as the company has "chosen it as one of our new growth engines." The Samsung official noted that the company will make X-ray CT equipment itself, and Samsung Medison expects to focus on MRI machines. But as far as possible acquisition targets, mum's the word. The spokesperson disclosed no details.

Samsung envisions at least one other life sciences sector as a new growth engine. The company has said it will also become a major manufacturer of cheap biosimilar drugs.

- read The Korea Times story

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