Sony Considering Loeb Approach

May 22 2013 | 12:38pm ET

Third Point's Dan Loeb may not get his way on breaking up Sony—but he'll get a hearing.

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai, who is thought to oppose Loeb's plan to spin-off the company's entertainment division, said he and the board will consider the hedge fund manager's proposal, made last week after Third Point took a US$1.1 billion stake in Sony and met with management.

"The proposal from Third Point… is something that we should discuss thoroughly at a board meeting and then we'll decide Sony's stance," Hirai said today. "We are still at the starting stage."

It is unclear when that decision may come. Hirai refused to discuss his own position on the potential spin-off.

Activism like Loeb's has not been welcome in Japan, where Western investors are viewed with suspicion by corporate executives. But Loeb and others apparently believe that the economic policies backed by new prime minister Shinzo Abe could change Japan's corporate culture.

In addition, Loeb has taken pains to be conciliatory, meeting with Hirai and other Sony executives, as well as government officials, and hand-delivering the letter with his suggestions, which include a partial spin-off of the entertainment division and major cost cuts in Sony's electronics division. Loeb has also suggested he'd accept a seat on Sony's board of directors.

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