The chosen partner would take a stake of more than 10%, according to Reuters, quoting a report in the Asahi newspaper.

In response, Olympus said in a statement: ‘Certain sections of the media have reported today regarding the capital alliance and medium term plan of Olympus Corporation, which is not a fact decided by the company.’

A spokesman for Sony told Amateur Photographer: ‘We don’t comment on rumours or speculation.’

Panasonic had yet to respond to a request for comment.

The company’s future plans are expected to be thrashed out at a board meeting due to take place on 8 June.

Yesterday, former Olympus boss Michael Woodford reached an out-of-court settlement with the firm after he took legal action claiming wrongful dismissal and discrimination.

The settlement – rumoured to be worth around £10m – must be ratified by Olympus directors at the 8 June meeting before it can be finally signed off.

Woodford and Olympus have declined to speak publicly about the size of the out-of-court settlement.