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Sony's board debates breaking up with Spider-Man

Firm considers investor plan to make its movie and music division public

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Sony has said that it will consider a proposal from activist investor Daniel Loeb that the group should sell off parts of its music and movies business, which includes popular franchises Spider-Man and Resident Evil and the weepy ballads of Brit crooner Adele.

Chief exec Kazuo Hirai told reporters from the Financial Times, Reuters and others that the company's board was discussing the plan to sell a portion of its entertainment biz, suggested last week by the firm's largest investor, Loeb's Third Point hedge fund.

Loeb said he wants the ailing Japanese firm to spin off 15 to 20 per cent of its film and music division in a public offering to raise money for its electronics and turn the entertainment business into a separately listed firm. The fund manager's suggestions carry new weight after revealing that he had increased Third Point's stake in Sony to $1.1bn.

While Hirai said the board was talking it over, he gave no sense of whether he or the board thought it was a good idea, saying that he would only give his own opinion after "sufficient debate".

"Third Point’s proposal involves the way we manage a core business of the Sony group and the direction of our management," he said, "so the Sony board will give it thorough consideration before replying to Mr Loeb."

The company already uses money from its entertainment division, which also includes TV shows such as Breaking Bad, to prop up its electronics operations, along with funds from its insurance biz, which is listed on the exchange.

The division brought in ¥85bn ($826m, £550m) in operation profit last year, making it the second biggest earner after the insurance and finance arm.

Hirai cut Sony's sales targets for cameras, smartphones and fondleslabs by 13 to 17 per cent for the fiscal year that ends in March 2015. In the current business year, the company is expecting operating profit of ¥230bn ($2.24bn, £1.48bn), around the same as this year when it kept its head above water with one-off moves such as selling its US head office in New York. ®

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