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Japan's Sony Bank to buy small retail brokerage

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) Sony Bank, the online banking unit of electronics and entertainment conglomerate Sony Corp <6758.T>, plans to buy a small Japanese retail brokerage to broaden its reach into trading and asset management.

Sony Bank said on Thursday it had agreed in principal to buy Kaiyo Securities, an unlisted broker based on the southern island of Okinawa. Financial details are being negotiated and regulators must approve any final deal, the bank said.

''Sony Bank's goal is to respond to customers' wide-ranging financial needs by increasing our asset management options,'' the bank said in a statement.

It said it plans to offer an expanded version of Kaiyo's domestic share trading service to Sony Bank clients beginning in 2007.

Sony Corp. has come to rely increasingly on financial services to bolster its profits as it struggles to revive its mainstay consumer electronics business.

Sony's financial unit, which operates banking, life and casualty insurance services, accounted for about seven percent of revenues in the April-June quarter, and 17 percent of operating profit.

Established in 2001, Sony Bank has 450,000 customer accounts and deposits of 658.5 billion yen (.66 billion). It turned a profit for the first time in the financial year ended in March, posting net earnings of 3.26 billion yen.

Sony Bank has no branches, operating entirely over the Internet and through automated teller machines (ATMs).

Kaiyo Securities was established in 2004. It has 12 employees and capital of 327.5 million yen.

REUTERS PV PM1232

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