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Sony to sell 21% stake in Shine

Lis Murdoch's company seen as competitor

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s 21% stake in London-based Shine Group is up for grabs following concerns regarding a potential conflict of interest between the two companies.

Both parties have agreed that Sony should sell its share in Shine because the shingle is emerging as a would-be competitor to Sony.

Shine, chaired by founder Elisabeth Murdoch, has grown in leaps and bounds from the midsized U.K.-focused entity that Sony bought into four years ago.

In that time, Shine has acquired L.A.-based producer-distributor Reveille and British shingles Kudos, Firefly and Princess, and flexed its muscle in mainland Europe by launching Shine Germany and buying Metronome Film and Television in Scandinavia. Shine also operates in Oz and France.

“While Shine is grateful for Sony’s support, it has become apparent over the past 18 months that Shine Group has grown to become a natural competitor to Sony, both through its acquisitions program and organic expansion, including into the film and digital areas,” a Shine Group spokesman said. “JP Morgan has an active brief to look at Shine Group’s corporate structure going forward, to facilitate additional startup businesses, evaluate substantial acquisitions and to invite strategic partners to invest in the company.”

U.K. paybox BSkyB, controlled by Murdoch’s father, Rupert, has a stake in Shine Group thought to be around 11%.

Last week Shine Group posted a hefty increase in operating profit from $6.4 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2008 on revenue up 160% to $384 million.

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