Third Point's Daniel Loeb Calling for Sony To Spin-off Entertainment Business

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who previously pushed for corporate changes at Yahoo, has called on Sony Corp. to spin off or sell a stake in its entertainment operations, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

It said Loeb, whose fund Third Point has quietly acquired a 6.5% stake in Sony, also signaled that he would be open to taking a seat on the entertainment and consumer electronics board.

The stake makes his company a big shareholder in the company.

Sony's entertainment business includes the Sony film studio, which has released the likes of "Skyfall," and its music operations. Loeb suggested a spin-off of a 15%-20% stake of the entertainment business to Sony shareholders to sharpen the conglomerate's focus, revive its electronics business and boost profits, the Times said.

The paper didn't provide further details.

Loeb flew to Tokyo this past weekend for meetings with government officials and Sony executives, according to the Times. He hand-delivered a letter on Tuesday to CEO Kazuo Hirai that praised his team's turnaround efforts, but asked for more changes.

“While Third Point supports your agenda for change, we also believe that to succeed, Sony must focus,” Loeb wrote in the letter, the Times said.

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After the meeting with Sony representatives, the hedge fund billionaire told associates that he was impressed by Hirai and was supportive of Sony's management, the Times said.

His push for change is expected to face hurdles given that activist investors don't have a track record of success in Japan. A spokesman for Sony told the Times he had no immediate comment on Loeb's proposals.

Last week, Sony reported its first annual profit in five years, helped by a weakening yen and some asset sales.