Sony Corporation (TYO:6758) is downplaying a suggestion by one of its largest hedge fund investors to spin off part of its entertainment business in an initial public offering, reported the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
At its latest annual shareholder meeting in Tokyo, supposedly attended by 10,000 shareholders, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said the proposal from Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC requires further review.
Hirai has maintained that it is up to Sony’s board to decide whether to adopt the plan, and he hasn’t offered a timetable for a decision yet. He hasn’t publicly backed or opposed the plan.
Third Point, which owns 7 percent of all Sony shares, has proposed that Sony sell off 20 percent of its movie and music business in an IPO, which would still leave Sony in ultimate control of its entertainment arm.
Loeb has argued in letters to Hirai that proceeds from the sale will help Sony subsidize its struggling electronics unit. He has also said that the partial spinoff will improve profits and make managers more accountable, reports AFP.
Loeb also offered to take a seat at the company’s board but so far has been rebuffed. In its latest meeting, Sony elected three new directors, as four stepped down, and Loeb was not in the running.
In a letter earlier to Loeb, Sony wrote that “entertainment businesses are important contributors to Sony’s growth and are not for sale.”
News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) recently voted to split its entertainment and publishing arms into two separate businesses, amid concern about lagging publishing profits.