Philips shuts off its once famous electronics arm

PHILIPS, the Dutch firm that was once famous for its televisions, audio systems and DVD players, yesterday said it was selling its consumer electronics arm.

Chief executive Frans van Houten said the company had sold its audio and video division – once the world’s biggest – for a paltry €150m (£128m) to Japan’s Funai Electric. Philips will now focus on its home appliances and healthcare businesses.

The sale puts an end to Philips’ 64-year history as a consumer electronics business. It sold its first television in 1949, but sold the majority of its TV business last year, creating a joint venture with Hong Kong’s TPV.

Philips has been hit by competition from Asian giants such as Samsung, as well as a global fall in demand for TVs and video cameras. Its Consumer Lifestyle division – which includes the electronics business Philips is selling as well as the home appliances business it is hanging on to – saw sales fall from €13.3bn in 2007 to €3.3bn last year. Philips has high hopes for the other half of Consumer Lifestyle, which makes toasters, shavers and electric toothbrushes.

“We have taken an important step in transforming Philips into the leading technology company in health and well-being,” van Houten said.

Philips announced the disposal as it reported a €355m loss in the final quarter of 2012, owing to a €509m European Commission fine over alleged price fixing of cathode ray tubes between 1996 and 2006.