Third Point LLC’s CEO Daniel Loeb has personally delivered a letter to Kazuo Hirai, President of Sony, suggesting Sony take 15 to 20 percent of the entertainment unit public by offering current Sony shareholders the opportunity to buy shares in it. Sony has responded that the entertainment business is not for sale. Loeb is also lobbying for a seat on the board. Here’s the original letter from hedge fund – apparently more gently phrased than his usual missives to targets.
There’s a good article in the Financial Times about it here, including some nice quotes from Nicholas Benes of The Board Directors Training Institute of Japan, (with whom Rudlin Consulting collaborates on corporate governance consulting) “The success of shoot-from-the-hip, too direct, culturally insensitive activists in Japan ranges from spottily poor to very poor,” – Benes notes that taking this public immediately was probably not the best tactic. I concur – best to let radical suggestions bed in – but maybe time is of the essence, especially as Sony is scheduled to reveal its corporate strategy on May 22nd.
Hirai himself has the kind of background that could leave him open to accusations of not being a “real Japanese” (went to the American School and the International Christian University in Tokyo – an English speaking university my mother used to teach at). So he might be personally open to Loeb’s suggestions, maybe even encouraged them, but has to play the “foreign pressure/gaiatsu” card quite carefully so as not to antagonise the more traditional factions in Sony I would suspect.
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