Sony’s major shareholder Third Point LLC has increased its stake in the Japanese company by 9.4 percent, as it seeks to push ahead on talks for a proposed spin-off of Sony’s movie and music businesses.
According to a report by Bloomberg, citing a June 17 letter from Third Point to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai, the hedge fund now owns 70 million shares through director ownership and cash-settled swaps.
It was reported last month by Japanese daily newspaper Nikkei that Sony was considering a proposal from Third Point to spin-off two of its successful entertainment business units and use the funds raised to aid Sony’s struggling electronics division.
The proposal is for Sony to put up as much as 20 percent of its music and movie assets for sale in an initial public offering, and Third Point investor Daniel Loeb met with Hirai last month to pitch the idea.
After its latest stake increment, Third Point has what is equivalent to about 6.9 percent of the Sony’s shares on issue, according to the Bloomberg report.
Loeb reportedly said in the letter: “Given our large stake, we reiterate our offer to serve on Sony’s board of directors.”
Sony has been struggling amid fierce competition (especially from Apple and Samsung) and needs to reinvent itself to appeal to investors again.
In its 2012 annual report, Hirai said that “Sony will change.” He revealed that the electronics business was suffering as “the operating environment remains harsh, with profits suffering from price competition resulting from product commoditization and the impact of persistently worsening foreign exchange rates.” Sony has made it a priority in the next year to rebuild its electronics business.
In the annual report, Hirai also noted though that Sony’s entertainment and financial services business units are stable and “poised for future growth”.
Last week, Sony unveiled its Playstation 4 that made a clear challenge to rival Microsoft. The PS4 will cost $399 — $100 cheaper than Microsoft’s Xbox One. There will be no restrictions on used games, and won’t require an Internet connection.
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