Sony CEO Kaz Hirai told shareholders at their annual meeting that entertainment is a vital part of the company, but that the board will consider the proposal from hedge fund Third Point to sell a 15 to 20% stake in the profit-making division.
Despite reiterating Sony’s position in his presentation to shareholders at a central Tokyo hotel near the company’s headquarters, the first question Hirai faced from the floor pressed for more details.
“The explanation regarding the hedge fund proposal that Hirai provided in his speech is essentially the same as has been reported in newspapers. Can he give us shareholders some more information as to Sony’s response?” asked a private investor.
“The entertainment businesses are very important to Sony, so this is a decision that is vital to Sony, not just today, but for its future. It needs to be examined from all angles and fully discussed before any decision is made,” answered Hirai, to a round of applause.
It was the first time in five years Sony was able to report an annual profit to its shareholders meeting, with its stock price almost doubling since the end of 2012, after having been in prolonged decline.
Opening the annual meeting, chief financial officer Masaru Kato emphasized the contribution of the movie, TV and music businesses, along with its Japanese financial services operations, to the company’s bottom line.