Sony CEO Calls Third Point Push 'A Good Thing'

Sep 20 2013 | 10:22am ET

Having turned aside Third Point's push to spin-off part of its entertainment business, Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai is feeling magnanimous in victory.

The electronics giant's chief heaped praise on Third Point's activist campaign, saying it helped Sony. The comments are a far cry from the usual reception activists get in Japan, where few if any campaigns have succeeded, and Japan's close-knit corporate community closes ranks against attack.

"Dan Loeb and Third Point shed a light on the entertainment properties that we've been trying to shed a light on for the longest time," Hirai told The Wall Street Journal. "It’s actually a good thing."

Third Point had pushed for Sony to take its entertainment division public, retaining a majority stake but forcing it to improve transparency. The company rejected that approach last month, but said it would disclose more information about the business.

Loeb's approach was markedly more conciliatory than most activist campaigns in Japan, although he became more strident as the months wore on. Still, his personal touch appears to have worked, to some extent.

"I have a fairly good relationship with the folks from Third Point, including Dan," Hirai said. "If I get a nice letter pointing out some issues that he thinks are legitimate, then why should I be combative?"


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