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Sony may scoop up Toshiba's image sensor business

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Sony may further cement its dominance in the market of smartphone camera components by acquiring Toshiba's sensor business. Amid an ongoing corporate restructuring, Toshiba is nearing a deal with Sony to sell off its sensor division, according to a report today from Reuters. Sony is far and away the leading supplier of CMOS image sensors used to power smartphone cameras and some DSLR units with a 40.2 percent share of the market in 2014. The acquisition of Toshiba's division would put Sony in an even stronger position against competitors like Samsung.

Sony's smartphone business hasn't been doing well, but the company has a strong grip on the smartphone camera market. Twice this year Sony expanded its image sensor plants in Nagasaki and Yamagata, costing it more than $1.2 billion. Yet its customers, like China's Xiaomi and Apple, have turned Sony's sensor business into a blockbuster success with sales growing 40 percent last year.

Sony is taking over the image sensor business

The picture is gloomier for Toshiba. The company is undergoing a corporate accounting scandal after revelations that it overstated earnings to the tune of $1.3 billion over the last seven years. After the resignation of CEO Hisao Tanaka, interim chief executive and chairman Masashi Muromachi laid out a restructuring plan to reform the company. The image sensor sale would be one of the first moves in that process.