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Sony Bags Integration Biz

Sony Electronics is getting out of the system-integration business, agreeing to sell its Systems Integration Division to A.F. Associates, an East Coast-based integrator that is a subsidiary of Ascent Media Group. Terms of the deal, expected to be completed by the end of the year, were not available.

"Having worked together on several prestigious projects during the past year, we recognized the potential for great synergy between SIC and AFA," says Barry Stagg, Ascent Media vice president, corporate marketing and communications.

The two are currently working on the CNN Center at the new Time Warner headquarters in New York. Sony spokesman David Migdal says the sale will not affect that project.

Stagg acknowledges the competitive relationship the two divisions have had, but he believes the combination will create significant benefits for customers and improve the unit's financial performance. For one thing, the acquisition gives AFA a presence on both coasts. Sony's SIC is based in San Jose, Calif.; AFA is based in Northvale, N.J.

Sony has been looking to sell the division for months, a move that would get the company out of two awkward situations. First, it removes any resentment that system integrators have towards Sony, resentment that can potentially get in the way of Sony equipment's being selected for a project. Second, Sony no longer will be in a business in which it finds itself involved in projects that include massive amounts of gear from competitive manufacturers, such as Thomson Grass Valley or Panasonic.