Feb 10, 2014

    Question mark over fate of Sony workers here

    AS SONY'S announcement of exiting the PC business and reducing headcount by 5,000 sent shockwaves across the industry, officials at the Japanese tech giant's Singapore office said on Friday that they were "reviewing the situation".

    When asked whether job cuts would include those employed in Singapore, a Sony spokesman said that he was "unable to provide further details at the moment", except to say that the company was reviewing its operations.

    The company employs 1,600 people here and its operations include regional headquarters' functions, sales and marketing, engineering and manufacturing, IT and treasury services.

    The manufacturing is mainly in the area of batteries. It does not have any significant PC manufacturing operations here.

    On Thursday, Sony said that it was selling its PC division, which makes the well-regarded Vaio brand of computers, to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) for a deal worth in the region of 40 billion to 50 billion yen (S$498-S$623 million), according to various reports.

    As part of the reorganisation, the company will let go of 5,000 employees to stem losses, which were forecast at 110 billion yen for the financial year ending March 31. Out of the 5,000 job cuts, 1,500 would be in Japan and 3,500 overseas.

    Sony said that around 250-300 Sony Corp and Sony EMCS Corp employees involved in PC operations, including planning, design, development, manufacturing and sales, are expected to be hired by the new company established by JIP.

    Sony will also explore opportunities for employees to be transferred to other businesses in the Sony Group.

    For employees of Sony Corp and Sony EMCS Corp who are not hired by the new company or transferred within the Sony Group, the company plans to offer an early-retirement support programme to assist their re-employment outside of Sony Group.

    To execute these measures, Sony is allocating a further 20 billion yen in restructuring expenses in fiscal 2013 and a further 70 billion yen in fiscal 2014.

    Sony expects that the retrenchment exercise will result in annual fixed-cost reductions of more than 100 billion yen, starting in fiscal 2015.