• Kyodo


Fujitsu Ltd. and Sony Corp. are both considering withdrawing from the Internet service provider market to concentrate on their core businesses, industry sources said Thursday.

The two electronics giants are believed to have been approached by Japan Industrial Partners Inc., a Tokyo-based investment fund that has acquired NEC Corp.’s ISP business.

Both Sony and Fujitsu are seeking to exit the business, which hinges individual customers — a sector identified as having limited prospects in light of the shrinking population and growing competition, the sources said.

Fujitsu aims to sell its subsidiary Nifty Co. to concentrate on areas with greater growth potential, such as making information technology systems for corporate clients, the sources said. It is likely to decide soon on a way to sell it, including bidding, they said.

In a statement released the same day, Fujitsu said it is “considering various choices, but it is not a fact that we have ‘entered into sales arrangement,’ ” denying an earlier newspaper report.

Sony is poised to examine the conditions of a possible deal to sell So-net Co. as it seeks to focus on restructuring its underperforming appliance business.

Rival NEC meanwhile has sold off its own ISP, NEC Biglobe Ltd., to Japan Industrial Partners. While it did not disclose the price tag, NEC said it expects extraordinary income of about ¥27 billion from the deal.

Nifty had about 1.51 million subscribers to its broadband service as of December last year. The company, set up in 1986 as a joint venture between Fujitsu and Nissho Iwai Corp., a trading house now renamed Sojitz Corp., expects a net profit of ¥3 billion on revenues of ¥72 billion for the business year ended last month.

So-net, with some 2.35 million broadband subscribers as of last month, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony, established in 1995.

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