More than 10,000 of Sony’s shareholders gathered on June 20th to approve their new external directors (although Sir Howard Stringer is stepping down, non-Japanese representation includes Sir Peter Bonfield and Tim Schaaff – ex President Sony Network Entertainment as well as Joi Ito, kohai of Sony President Kazuo Hirai at the American School in Tokyo).
The atmosphere was generally positive, given the improvement in the Sony share price, the first net profit for several years and the impact of a cheaper yen. Hirai was praised for his leadership and having an “ikemen” – from the Japanese “ikeru” meaning good looking, and “men” meaning face.
Hedge Fund Third Point’s CEO Daniel Loeb’s proposal to spin off the entertainment side of the business is still being “carefully considered”, which is a euphemism which could either mean what it says, or that they would rather park the idea indefinitely. Atul Goyal, consumer technology analyst at Jefferies proposed the opposite – that Sony should sell off its loss making TV and electronics business. But as Hirai himself said, that is the part of the business that is seen as Sony’s DNA.
The importance of the TV business to Sony was reinforced for me when I mentioned to a group of European managers last week that Sony had one of the strongest reputations in The Reputation Institute’s 2012 RepTrak survey, particularly in Europe. They were not at all surprised – all emphatically saying that they would choose a Sony TV every time, because of the quality. Shame that Sony loses money on each one…
It probably also helps awareness of Sony and its reputation in Europe that Sony is one of the dozen or so Japanese companies who employ more than 10,000 people in Europe (more details in Rudlin Consulting’s Sony in Europe profile – only available to subscribers)
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