Sony to start real estate unit, taps customer database

Published: 11:00 PM, April 24, 2014

TOKYO - Sony will start a real estate business as Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai seeks to leverage information from the company’s consumer electronics division, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

The real estate unit, which will begin operations in August, will include a brokerage as well as property management and consulting businesses. Sony is making an initial investment of about 250 million yen (S$3 million), the company was reported as saying.

The Nikkei newspaper earlier reported that Sony aimed to generate annual sales of 50 billion yen in the real estate unit within five years.

Sony is struggling to find new hit products to capture a consumer shift to mobile devices made by Apple and Samsung Electronics as demand for televisions, cameras and personal computers declines. Mr Hirai is trying to spur a revival at the company after it forecast a 110 billion yen loss in the year ended March 31 and said it would cut 5,000 more jobs and reduce expenses.

Deutsche Bank analyst Yasuo Nakane said: “Sony has accumulated personal information through its Vaio and PlayStation businesses, so the company may be able to use the consumer database in the real estate business. It’s more about asset optimization, rather than a strategic move.”