Sony boss asks for more time to consider Loeb spin-off proposal

KAZUO Hirai, the chief executive of Sony, has told shareholders that he will consider a proposal from US hedge fund manager Dan Loeb to spin off the company’s lucrative film and music division.

However, he warned against moving too quickly, adding that he sees the division as a crucial part of Sony. “This is a significant proposal that addresses an important business of Sony, the entertainment business,” Hirai told more than 10,000 shareholders at the Japanese firm’s annual meeting yesterday.

“We shouldn’t come to a conclusion in haste for the sake of coming to a conclusion.”

Loeb’s Third Point has upped its stake in Sony as the billionaire investor attempts to win support for his plan. He believes the film and music divisions are significantly undervalued and that separating them would create better value for shareholders.

Sony’s shares have risen since Loeb announced his plan last month, but stayed flat yesterday after Hirai pleaded for time. “I understand this to be a very important proposal. It not only involves what Sony is today but also what Sony should be in the future,” he said.

Hirai, who took over from Welshman Howard Stringer last year, sounded bullish on Sony’s consumer electronics business yesterday, saying he expects growth from its smartphone operations and that he aims to make the TV division profitable.