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Lynton to oversee Sony U.S. entertainment ops

Studio topper adds turf as conglom preps for Stringer-Hirai transition

Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton is expected to take control of all U.S. entertainment operations in a leadership shakeup ahead of chairman and chief executive Howard Stringer’s handover of duties to Kazuo Hirai.

Lynton would add the title of chief executive of Sony Corporation of America and assume oversight of Sony Music and Sony ATV, sources confirmed to Variety. Sony general counsel and executive vice president Nicole Seligman will also see an expanded role, likely as prexy of SCA.

The appointments have not been finalized, and plans could change before Hirai announces the reshuffling plan next week, sources say.

Lynton shares the Sony Pictures chairman title with Amy Pascal, who’s expected to continue in her co-chair role. She had traditionally reported to Stringer before his exit, effective April 1, and presumably will report to Lynton under the new arrangement.

Lynton appointment would come amidst rumblings that Sony’s Japanese owners are mulling a sale of its U.S. entertainment operations. But the ops have been the few bright spots for Sony Corp. in recent years as the Japanese conglom has been hit hard in its consumer electronics and hardware divisions.

In December, company reported losses of more than one billion dollars in operating income, largely attributed to unfavorable market conditions and foreign exchange rates.

The company’s film and television division, meanwhile, eaked out a profit, albeit barely. In 2011, SPE reported a profit of $7.2 billion, much of which came from the studio’s television arm.

And while the music industry has experienced significant losses during the past decade, Sony Music has been busy with the strategic acquisition of EMI’s Publishing holdings. That purchase, currently under review by regulators domestically and abroad, could make Sony the largest global music publisher.

Just two days ago, Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed a “long-term” deal with the architect of that acquisition, Martin Bandier, to stay on in his role as chairman and CEO.

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