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Sony says it won't pay a dividend this year for the first time since it listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1958. #yikes
— Peter Thal Larsen (@peter_tl) September 17, 2014
That’s the gist of Sony’s response to billionaire activist investor Daniel Loeb’s suggestion, made via hand-delivered letter, that Sony should break itself up. It stems from an NYT Andrew Ross Sorkin exclusive.
Loeb’s idea is basically: partially spin out Sony’s entertainment division via an IPO which Loeb’s Third Point fund would happily sign up to. He’d also gladly accept a seat on Sony’s board. As the NYT noted, Loeb is known for ousting Yahoo’s former chief executive and poaching Marissa Mayer from Google to run the company. His hedge fund has quietly amassed a stake of about 6.5 per cent in Sony, making it one of the biggest shareholders.
From Loeb’s letter to Sony’s president and CEO Kazuo Hirai: Read more
Sony warned its net loss would balloon to Y220bn ($2.9bn) this year, two and a half times its previous forecast, owing to a surging yen, supply-disrupting floods in Thailand and the cost of restructuring its unprofitable television business, the FT reports. Kazuo Hirai, who on Wednesday was named Sony’s next chief executive, on Thursday promised to make “unavoidable, painful choices” to fix or dispose of loss-making operations and turn the Japanese company round after what will be its fourth straight year in the red.
Sony warned it would suffer a Y220bn ($2.9bn) net loss for the full year, a much larger deficit than it had previously forecast, as it embarks on an expensive restructuring of its unprofitable television business, the FT reports. The Japanese group’s new guidance for the financial year ending in March compares with an earlier loss estimate of Y90bn and is more pessimistic than experts had expected. Industry analysts tracked by Bloomberg had been projecting a loss of Y147bn. Thursday’s downgrade reflects the cost of dissolving a TV panel-making joint venture between Sony and Samsung of South Korea, a move that Sony says will force it to book a non-cash impairment charge of Y66bn. Sony is also writing off TV production facilities in Japan and scaling back its sales targets. The electronics and entertainment group announced on Wednesday that Kazuo Hirai, its 51-year-old deputy president, will take over as president and chief executive in April, confirming a widely anticipated change of leadership. Mr Hirai will take on most of the responsibilities currently held by Sir Howard Stringer, the Wales-born American who has been Sony’s chief executive since 2005 and will stay on as chairman.
Olympus is scouting the global electronics industry for a friendly investor to help it recover from an accounting scandal and has put Sony and Panasonic on its short list, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported, says Reuters. Olympus, a maker of cameras and medical equipment, has been wounded by a $1.7bn accounting fraud that burst into the open in October, shredding its share price, leaving its management in disgrace and its balance sheet damaged. Asahi Shimbun listed the two electronics firms as among a short-list of five that Olympus would foresee injecting fresh capital in return for a minority stake and a seat at the table of the global healthcare industry.
Sony on Wednesday warned it would suffer a Y90bn ($1.2bn) net loss this year and said it would shrink its unprofitable television business, making it the second Japanese electronics group this week to announce a strategic retreat from TVs, reports the FT. The company had forecast a Y60bn net profit for the financial year to March but a series of problems has worsened the outlook – including slowing demand for consumer electronics, an increasingly expensive yen and floods in Thailand that have disrupted parts supplies. Sony followed its longtime rival Panasonic in drastically scaling back its ambitions in TVs, a product that once defined Japan’s electronics brands. In the flatscreen era Japanese groups have lost competitiveness to lower-cost producers from South Korea and Taiwan. Sony’s TV business has been in the red for the past eight years.
Sony Corp on Wednesday slashed its full-year operating profit outlook by 90 per cent to its lowest level in three years as Thai floods disrupt camera production at the Japanese company, which is already struggling with a soaring yen and sluggish television sales in the US and Europe, Reuters reported. Sony blamed the deluge in Thailand for cutting Y25bn ($320m) in expected earnings and reduced its forecast for TV sales by almost a tenth to 20m sets. Sony, which is heading for its eighth straight annual loss in its TV division, is revamping the unit, but a lack of details since the plan was announced three months ago and poor sales are keeping investors downbeat. It said earlier this week that it would split its television business into three divisions of outsourcing, LCD TVs and next-generation TVs from Nov. 1 in its latest attempt to turn around the loss-making operation. Sony is also considering dissolving its flat-screen venture with Samsung Electronics, which will enable it to cut panel supply costs and improve its TV business earnings, according to sources familiar with the matter. It has yet, however, to unveil any plan.
Len Blavatnik, whose Access Industries group bought Warner Music earlier this year, has walked away from the $3bn-$4bn auction for EMI, the FT reports, citing people close to the negotiations. Mr Blavatnik’s offer of about $1.5bn for EMI’s recorded music division remained below the price at which Citigroup was prepared to sell the asset it seized in February from Terra Firma, these people said. However, they did not rule out Mr Blavatnik returning to the table, as he did after a similar threat three weeks ago, adding that it may not be clear for two weeks or more whether Citigroup will settle for offers below initial hopes or retain EMI for at least another year. These people also said Citigroup’s negotiations over EMI Music Publishing appeared to have made more progress, with an offer of about $2bn from BMG, the joint venture between Bertelsmann and KKR, beating a bid from a Sony-led group which was still working to secure financing from sovereign wealth funds and elsewhere.
Sony is nearing a deal to buy out Ericsson’s stake in their mobile-phone joint venture, the WSJ says, citing people familiar with the matter. By wresting full control of Sony Ericsson, a 50-50 joint venture created in 2001 that is the world’s sixth-largest cellphone manufacturer, Sony aims to integrate its smartphone operation with its businesses in tablets, hand-held gaming devices, and PCs to save on costs and better synchronise development of mobile devices, the people said. Talks about the ownership structure had been under way for years. Sony shares fell after the report, Bloomberg says, declining more than 3 per cent in morning trade in Tokyo, to become the biggest faller in Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average, which gained 1.3 per cent.
Sony has secured financing from Abu Dhabi’s investment fund for EMI as second-round bids for the UK music company came in before a deadline last night, the FT reports, citing people close to Citibank’s $3.5bn-$4bn auction. Financial support from Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi investment fund, and Raine, the media investment bank, backed by Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel, could put Sony on a more equal footing with bidders including BMG Music Publishing, Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes group, Universal Music and Len Blavatnik’s Warner Music. Sony reached the last stage of this year’s auction for Warner Music, but lost to Mr Blavatnik’s Access Industries as it struggled to lock down approval from its board in Tokyo and the estate of Michael Jackson, its partner in the Sony ATV music publishing joint venture. Sony ATV has been expected to target EMI Music Publishing, valued at $2bn-$2.5bn, but Sony Music, its recorded music business, was said to also be looking at EMI Music, the record label business expected to fetch $1.1bn-$1.5bn. Sony declined to comment.
Online music service Spotify has edged closer to its long-delayed US launch after signing a distribution agreement with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, reports the WSJ, citing people familiar with the matter. The deal, signed on Thursday, is in addition to similar pacts with EMI Group and Sony Music Entertainment. The remaining major-label group, Warner Music Group, was in advanced talks on Friday with Spotify. Spotify has said it is aiming for an early July launch in the US. The company has publicly set and missed such dates repeatedly over the past two years but this time seems better positioned to complete its plans, with deals with all major labels to operate in many parts of Europe and UK, where it has become wildly popular. But the advertising it sells to support its free offerings has yet to generate enough revenue to satisfy record labels, which gain a percentage as part of their licensing deals.
Nintendo, the manufacturer of the Wii and 3DS game systems, said on Sunday it had suffered a recent hacker attack, the latest in a flurry of intrusions into corporate websites, reports the NYT. Kyoto-based Nintendo said a server at an affiliate of its US unit was accessed unlawfully “a few weeks ago.” That server contained no consumer information and no data had been lost, it added. The attack appears far less serious than the security breach of Sony’s PlayStation Network, which forced it offline in late April and saw hackers take personal data from tens of millions of user accounts. However, the FT’s TechHub notes, this incident will “not inspire trust” in console makers, who are clearly struggling to respond to the new threat.
Sony has restarted production at the last of 10 factories in Japan that were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, even though it expects months more disruptions to its supply chain, reports the FT. The Japanese tech giant said it had resumed output of Blu-ray video disks on Monday at a factory in Tagajo that was damaged by the tsunami. The factory also makes magnetic tapes for professional audio and video recording but tape production would not resume until late July, Sony said. The restoration at Tagajo is in line with a schedule issued in April which contradicted warnings by observers that clean-up and repairs could take a year. The FT earlier reported that Sony was set to restore its PlayStation network in Asia at the weekend, reviving its online gaming operations in the final region still suffering from the recent hacker attack.
Sony’s battle with computer hackers is spreading from its US-based PlayStation Network to business units globally, as the Japanese group acknowledged three new attacks on Wednesday, writes the FT. Sony customers in Canada, Thailand and Indonesia had their personal information targeted in the latest incidents the company said. It added that it did not know whether the attacks were connected to the theft last month of information belonging to 100m users of the PlayStation online game network and other internet-based services. The company said it had taken down a website run by Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications in Canada, through which intruders had obtained names and e-mail addresses of about 2,000 customers. A Sony web site in Thailand was meanwhile used in a “phishing” attack, in which cyber criminals attempt to lure people into entering sensitive information such as credit card numbers into fake or hijacked sites. Sony said it had received no reports of information being stolen, and that it had taken down the site.
Japan’s trade balance fell for the first time in three months in April as supply chain problems from the March earthquake and tsunami sharply curtailed exports. Japan swung into a trade deficit of Y463.7bn ($5.7bn) as exports fell 12.5 per cent from a year earlier, and imports rose 8.9 per cent on higher demand for fuel, the FT reports. The deficit was significantly smaller than the median estimate of 24 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, which was for a shortfall of Y704bn. Despite the lower figure than forecast, the deficit highlights the impact of the March earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out a wide range of production sites and affected some of Japan’s biggest exporters, including Toyota, Sony and Hitachi.
Sony has reported a surprise Y260bn ($3.18bn) net loss for the year ended March 31 due to the impact of Japan’s March earthquake and tsunami and the hacker attacks that forced it to shut down its PlayStation Network, the FT reports. The full-year loss, revealed in a preliminary earnings report on Monday, was the Japanese entertainment group’s third in as many years and its largest under Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive, since 2005. The immediate cause was a Y360bn one-off tax charge, as Sony wrote off deferred tax credits banked during the past two years of deficits. The credits have value only if Sony earns taxable profits in Japan – but it said confidence had been eroded by the disaster. Sony stressed that it remained in the black at the operating level, and the accounting charge would not drain cash. Still, the results could rattle investors who expected Sony to return to net profit this year. The stock rose nearly 2% on Tuesday morning in Tokyo, adds Bloomberg.
Sony has posted a Y260bn ($3.18bn) net loss for the year ended March 31 due to the impact of Japan’s quake and tsunami and the hacker attacks that forced it to shut down its PlayStation Network, the Japanese electronics company revealed in a preliminary earnings statement Monday, the FT reports. The company had called a news conference on Monday for 5.30pm local time to announce the revision. Companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange are required to inform investors if they believe they will miss earnings targets by 30 per cent or more. Sony was scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year results on Thursday. Analysts had been expecting a Y76bn profit and the company had forecast net income of Y70bn.
Sony will lose money and customers as a result of the hacker attack on its PlayStation Network, Sir Howard Stringer, its chief executive, has warned, the FT reports. In his first interview since taking the gaming network offline in late April, Sir Howard said Sony had not determined whether it will take a one-time charge related to the breach. But he acknowledged the company is facing costs related to repairing and upgrading its online networks, lost revenues and new identity theft insurance it is offering customers. The WSJ adds that analysts estimate that the breach will cost Sony, which reports full-year results on May 26, as much as $1bn.
Sony will lose money and customers as a result of the hacker attack on its PlayStation Network, Sir Howard Stringer, its chief executive, has warned, the FT reports. In his first interview since taking the gaming network offline in late April, Sir Howard said Sony had not determined whether it will take a one-time charge related to the breach. But he acknowledged that the company is facing costs related to repairing and upgrading its online networks, lost revenues during the outages, and new identity theft insurance that it is offering customers.
Sony’s chief executive Sir Howard Stringer on Thursday apologised for a massive data breach of the company’s online game networks, the first public remarks by the top executive as Sony works to reassure customers following the theft of personal data from more than 100m online accounts, reports the WSJ.. In a blog post addressed to Sony customers late Thursday, Stringer said Sony’s resources “have been focused on investigating the entire nature and impact of the cyber-attack we’ve all experienced and on fixing it.” The intrusion, last month, resulting in the theft of names, email addresses and possibly credit-card information from its PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment gaming services. Sony took down the PlayStation Network over two weeks ago to investigate the intrusion and secure the network from future attacks. On Thursday, Sony also announced a plan to give customers free identity-theft prevention services for 12 months.
Comment, analysis and offerings from Wednesday’s FT,
Martin Wolf: Managing eurozone fragility
Why is Spain paying higher interest rates on its government debt than the UK?, asks the FT columnist. The answer to is illuminating: membership of a currency union makes a country fiscally fragile. This is inherent in the construction: members are neither sovereign states nor components of a federation. The big challenge for the eurozone is to resolve this contradiction. Read more
Sony closed a second online network for its gaming customers and said for the first time that hackers had stolen account information on thousands of payment cards, the FT reports. The company disabled the Sony Online Entertainment system, which serves players of its EverQuest and other games played from personal computers. It said that at around the same time that one or more hackers broke into the larger PlayStation Network for console gamers, there was a similar breach at the PC service. Bloomberg adds that Sony may have exposed up to 100m customers to years of potential identity theft after hackers breached the company’s online entertainment networks in mid-April.
Sony closed a second online network for its gaming customers and said for the first time that hackers had stolen account information on thousands of payment cards, reports the FT. The company on Monday disabled the Sony Online Entertainment system, which serves players of its EverQuest and other games played from personal computers. It said that at around the same time hackers broke into the larger PlayStation Network for console gamers, there was a similar breach at the PC service. Names, email addresses and phone numbers for 24m users were stolen, and a database from 2007 was also compromised, exposing more than 12,000 debit and credit card numbers and more than 10,000 transaction records from Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. Sony, which on Sunday apologies for the original breach, is still discovering fresh attacks but a spokesman said the decision to close the online entertainment network related to the discovery of a previous breach rather than a second attack. The WSJ adds that Sony separately denied reports that hackers had offered to sell stolen data back.
Sony faced fierce criticism on Wednesday following its disclosure that a hacker had stolen the personal data of more than 70m users of its PlayStation Network in one of the worst such online privacy breaches to date, reports the FT. The Japanese group said it had lost real names, birth dates, email addresses and Sony passwords in what it described as an “intrusion” nearly a week earlier. It had closed down the PlayStation Network and its smaller Qriocity media streaming service, which was also affected, but the delayed disclosure drew criticism. The NYT says some observers suggest the incident will give Sony’s top videogame rivals, Nintendo and Microsoft, a leg up in the console wars.
Sony faced fierce criticism on Wednesday following its disclosure that a hacker had stolen the personal data of more than 70m users of its PlayStation Network in one of the worst such online privacy breaches to date, reports the FT. The Japanese group said it had lost real names, birth dates, e-mail addresses and Sony passwords in what it described as an “intrusion” nearly a week earlier. It had closed down the PlayStation Network and its smaller Qriocity media streaming service, which was also affected, but the delayed revelation drew criticism.
More than 70m users of Sony’s online gaming network have had their names, e-mail addresses and passwords stolen by a hacker in one of the largest privacy breaches to date, the FT reports. Sony announced on Tuesday that the information had been taken – six days after it closed the PlayStation Network – as it began e-mailing users of the free service with warnings to be on the lookout for scams. The Japanese electronics and entertainment powerhouse said it was possible that credit card information had been taken as well, recommending that customers who had supplied those numbers online should review their bills carefully. The breach is troubling because many Sony gamers are likely to have used the same passwords for e-mail and social networking accounts. The hacker could resell user name and password combinations to other criminals, who could take control of those accounts and mine them for bank account passwords or send bogus e-mails to friends’ addresses.