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Sony Corp. Rejects Activist Shareholder Daniel Loeb’s Proposal To Spin Off Chip Unit

Dade Hayes

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Sony Corp. has rejected a proposal by activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of Third Point Capital to spin off its semiconductor business in order to unlock value in its entertainment holdings.

Third Point, which has accumulated $1.5 billion in Sony shares since 2013, sent an open letter to Sony’s board in June outlining its recommendations for the company. One central idea it advocated was separating its chip business. “New Sony,” as Loeb dubbed the proposed operation, would consist of music, film, TV and gaming assets.

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“Sony’s board and management team, along with external financial and legal advisors in Japan and the U.S., conducted an extensive analysis of Third Point’s recommendations,” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida wrote in a letter to shareholders. “Following this review, Sony’s board, which is comprised of a majority of independent outside directors with diverse experience in a variety of industries, unanimously concluded that retaining the semiconductor business (now called the Imaging & Sensing Solutions business) is the best strategy for enhancing Sony’s corporate value over the long term.”

The company maintained that being able to provide technology across the landscape, with a range of major tech companies entering the entertainment sector, is a key advantage for Sony. Artificial intelligence and imaging technology in particular will be increasingly in demand.

“Looking outside Sony many of the world’s leading entertainment companies are now seeking to acquire technology, while many technology companies are moving into the entertainment space,” the letter to shareholders said. “The clear trend we see is for entertainment businesses of today to be directly connected to technology.”

The rebuff of Third Point comes a few weeks after Sony sold its 5% stake in Olympus, a move recommended by Loeb.

Shares of Sony on the New York Stock Exchange are trading near their 52-week high and have gained 23% in 2019 to date. They closed Monday at $59.97.

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