Activist shareholder Loeb piles more pressure on Sony board

THIRD Point yesterday said it has raised its stake in Sony and urged the Japanese company to create an independent board to run a partially spun-off entertainment arm with Sony’s CEO, Kazuo Hirai, as its chairman.

Third Point, a $13bn (£8.3bn) hedge fund founded by billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, last month proposed that the struggling electronics maker conduct an initial public offering for its profitable music and movie business. It said such a move could boost Sony’s share price by as much as 60 per cent.

In a second letter to Hirai yesterday, in which he again offered to put a Third Point representative on Sony’s board, Loeb added to his proposal by suggesting that Sony adopt “a semi-independent governance structure”.

Loeb argues that the electronics maker has failed to find the synergies that the shift into entertainment had promised when it bought Columbia Pictures 24 years ago.

He again urged “brisk change” at Sony amid the backdrop of economic changes being wrought by Japan’s Prime Minister that are aimed at ending years of deflation and call for leaner and more agile corporate governance.

Sony reiterated that its board would consider the proposal, but declined to comment on the latest letter, which came two days before Sony hosts its annual shareholders meeting in Tokyo.

Sony shares rose 4.4 per cent yesterday, compared to the Nikkei 225 index, which closed down 0.2 per cent.