Major Sony investor calls for the corporation to split up

[UPDATE] Daniel S. Loeb says Sony should split its entertainment and electronics businesses; Sony now considering the move.


[UPDATE] Bloomberg reports that Sony executives are now considering following through on Loeb's proposal for an initial public offering (IPO) of its entertainment business.

According to CEO Kazuo Hirai, the talks are only preliminary.

"It's only a start," Hirai said. "It's important that the board will discuss this and come to a decision that represents Sony’s stance."

The original story follows below.

A major New York hedge fund investor has called for Sony to split its wide-reaching business apart, saying that separating the entertainment division--responsible for blockbuster movies like Skyfall--will allow the PlayStation-owning electronics division to thrive.

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The New York Times reports that the hedge fund of billionaire Daniel S. Loeb, Third Point, has invested stocks worth $1.1 billion into the Japanese electronics giant and is now one of its largest shareholders. Loeb is said to have personally delivered a letter calling for Sony to be split up to CEO Kazuo Hirai on Tuesday.

"Sony has stood for innovative engineering and consumer satisfaction for decades," says Third Point's letter to Sony. "From televisions to gaming consoles to handsets, Sony epitomizes the proud legacy of Japanese manufacturing ingenuity, superior product design, and excellent user experience."

"However, many casual observers would be surprised to learn that while Sony is electronics, much of its current value is derived from a hidden gem--Sony's Entertainment division. Like many conglomerates [Third Point has] invested in previously, Sony has two strong businesses facing different challenges side by side, each obscuring the other's true worth."

"To maximize Sony's overall success, we believe the Company should change the structure of its ownership of Sony Entertainment. Doing so will strengthen Sony by reducing its burdensome debt, thereby providing additional resources and capital to focus on revitalizing the resurgent Sony Electronics."

A Sony spokesperson replied to the letter by saying that the company is "focused on creating shareholder value by executing on our plan to revitalize and grow the electronics business, while further strengthening the stable business foundations of the entertainment and financial services businesses.”

Hirai is expected to talk about the future of the 67-year-old company next week.

Sony announced earlier this week that it has returned to profitability for the first time in five years.

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