In a statement, Sony said the sale of 17.2 million of its 34.4 million shares will ‘strengthen its financial resources and obtain funds for growth-oriented strategic investments’.

Sony added, however, that it plans to continue to ‘closely collaborate’ with Olympus through the business alliance that was first established in 2012.

Olympus today issued a separate statement confirming that the sale was effective today, 1 April.

Previously, Sony Corporation was the largest shareholder in Olympus, with 10.09% of overall voting rights.

It now holds a 5.04% stake.

The companies first announced a £400m tie-up in September 2012, when Olympus said it expected to supply camera lenses and lens barrels to Sony, and for Sony to provide it with imaging sensors.

The agreement aimed to give Olympus ‘greater business synergy in the core business domains of medical and imaging’.

At the time, Olympus president Hiroyuki Sasa said: ‘In the field of digital cameras, we will seek to achieve collaboration in a manner that further improves the competitiveness of the two companies.’