Daniel S. Loeb, an American hedge fund billionaire with a 6.5% stake in Sony has strongly suggested that Sony is broken up into small companies, specifically breaking off the entertainment division that includes Sony Music, the Hollywood studio and of course, PlayStation.
In a letter to Kaz Hirai he said that his hedge fund, Third Point, broadly supported Sony’s current plans but “we also believe that to succeed, Sony must focus.” According to Loeb, the entertainment division requires “discipline” to bolster the share price by up to 60%.
A spokesman for Sony responded to the move with a polite but firm statement reinforcing their current plans.
“We are focused on creating shareholder value by executing on our plan to revitalize and grow the electronics business, while further strengthening the stable business foundations of the entertainment and financial services businesses.”
“We look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with our shareholders as we pursue our strategy.”
Shareholders seem to have reacted positively to Loeb’s plans which would require Sony to ditch its strict hierarchy and bureaucracy, something that is entrenched in Japanese culture.
This has always been a problem, Sony’s own Howard Stringer has also suggested that the Japanese culture has a negative impact on running a profitable business.
“Japan is a harmonious society which cherishes its social values, including full employment,” he said, “That leads to conflicts in a world where shareholder value call for ever greater efficiency.”
To put it simply, Mr. Loeb wants Sony to be run like a western company so as to maximise profits.
For PlayStation this would almost certainly mean the streamlining of the games division and any plans for smaller, quirkier games in the style of Unfinished Swan, Journey and Tokyo Jungle would be cancelled in favour of products that are guaranteed to make money.
At present Sony seem to be resistant to change, Kaz Hirai has always said that Sony Entertainment is not for sale and a will give a presentation on the company’s future plans next week.
An American trying to force Sony to abandon hundreds of years of tradition and culture appears to be an insurmountable task but Sony do need to start making money. If the current plans to bring the company back in to profit falter at any step, Daniel.S. Loeb and Third Point are now in a prime position to make their move.
Source: NY Times.