IBM is looking to sell off its printer division in an attempt to cut loose slow growing businesses and buy in cheaply from companies that have achieved economies of scale.
The vendor has appointed investment bank Goldman Sachs to seek a buyer for the printing business, understood to be valued at about $2 billion.
The move follows IBM's withdrawal from the PowerPC venture with Motorola as the company was said to be considering a reduction in memory chip manufacturing.
The Printing Systems Co develops high-end industrial printers and its sale will mark IBM's second move out of the printer business.
In 1991, IBM withdrew from the low-end printer market, eventually spinning off its Lexmark operation. It returned to that sector in 1996 but has faltered against the rising market share of Xerox.
Several Japanese printer vendors have been approached, although Canon was reported to have declined an offer from IBM.
One vendor that has become famous for picking up unwanted printer operations is Genicom.
The US manufacturer bought Texas Instruments' printer arm in July 1996 and also took over Digital's printing operation in August 1997. It was thought that the IBM product set would fit into Genicom's portfolio of industrial printers, which it sells to airlines, credit card companies and other large corporations.
Hewlett Packard is also seen as a potential buyer, keen to boost its market share.
IBM declined to comment.
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