Sony Board Will Review Loeb Spinoff Proposal: CEO
It's important that the Sony board examine activist investor Dan Loeb's proposal to spin off part of the entertainment business and it's premature to speculate on what will happen, CEO Kazuo Hirai told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Thursday.
"The proposal is that we look to spin off 15 percent to 20 percent of our entertainment assets," Hirai said. "The process is a discussion that needs to happen at the board level of the organization. We want to make sure we have a thorough discussion of the merits of the proposal before we come to any conclusion."
The most important priority, Hirai said, is that Sony makes sure it is able to "continue a very successful business in the entertainment space." Part of that is leveraging the entertainment business' content to support the electronics business, he said. "That's a combination that other electronics manufacturers do not have."
Earlier this month, Loeb took a $1.1 billion stake in Sony to agitate for the conglomerate to consider a spinoff of the entertainment business. Loeb's Third Point hedge fund is Sony's largest shareholder.
Hirai added that Sony wants to make sure it looks to outside advisors to assist in objectively looking at the proposal and that it is getting advice on all aspects of the proposal.
Turning to the electronics business, Hirai said Sony can turn that business around through "focus and execution."
Sony has a new smartphone product coming, for instance, Hirai said, that it designed from the ground up after dissolving the joint venture with Ericsson last year. He said it's packed with the best of Sony technology.
And with the company's new PlayStation 4 going up against Microsoft's new XBox One this holiday season, the Sony CEO said, "We want to make sure we have the best and most compelling games." He added, "This generation of software and hardware is going to include a lot of social aspects and mobile aspects as well."
Hirai also said the Japanese government is pushing the right agendas, but it's too early to tell if Abenomics will work.
"It's not going to be an overnight change but I think we're heading in the right direction," he said, adding that the government needs to stick to its policies and make sure real growth opportunities for Japanese industry take hold.