Sony Entertainment is the parent company of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, and joint venture Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Seligman will report to Sony Entertainment chief executive Michael Lynton on entertainment matters, but will continue to report to Sony Corp chief exec Kazuo Hirai on all other Sony Corp business.
Sony said she would “help drive profitability, growth and innovation in the company’s entertainment sector.”
Seligman was also named senior legal counsel for Sony Group; she was previously exec VP, general counsel, corporate executive officer, at Sony Corp.
Her appointment to the newly created post came amid a slew of other exec shuffles in other Sony divisions, announced by the parent company in Tokyo without any elaboration on the strategic rationale behind the moves.
It’s likely that Seligman’s appointment is another effort to convince investors that Sony is serious about shaking up the status quo at its Hollywood operations. Sony Pictures Entertainment has just gone through a top-to-bottom strategic review and identified more than $200 million in cost-cutting moves to be implemented in the coming months.
Seligman is no stranger to Sony Pictures Entertainment brass. She joined Sony in 2001 from Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C., where she was a partner in the firm’s litigation practice. Her clients included President Bill Clinton and Lt. Col. Oliver North.
Sony came under pressure last year from shareholder Daniel Loeb, chief exec of hedge fund Third Point, to spin off the entertainment biz, which he said was under-performing and lacked transparency. (Loeb is an investor in Variety‘s parent company, Variety Media.)
Hirai said at a strategy meeting earlier this month that increasing the financial performance of the entertainment biz was one of his priorities. As part of its strategy, Sony is seeking to slash cost in its Pictures division by $300 million by the end of the 2015 financial year. It also said it would “explore new ways to innovate in its entertainment businesses.”
Sales in the pictures division increased 11.4% year-on-year to Yen 732.7 billion ($7.21 billion) in 2013, while operating income increased 40.1% to Yen 47.8 billion ($470 million). Current pics include “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “22 Jump Street” and “Think Like a Man Too.”
Hirai has been seeking to shake up the corporation in order to bolster its financial performance, which has been dragged down by its electronics division. The restructuring included the appointment of Kenichiro Yoshida as chief strategic and financial officer.
“I sought out Nicole for this role and am thrilled to work with her to explore new ways to leverage Sony Entertainment’s business and creative assets into new opportunities for profitability and growth,” said Lynton.
“We have so much talent to draw upon, and I’m very happy that we now also have Nicole’s broad experience and proven judgment focused on moving Sony Entertainment forward.”
“Nicole is a dynamic and respected leader whose experience and skills are ideally suited to help spur the growth of our Sony Entertainment properties, while continuing her essential role as an advisor to me and Tokyo senior management,” said Hirai. “This shift in Nicole’s focus, and new management model, reaffirm Sony’s emphasis on and commitment of significant resources to growth in our entertainment company.”
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Michael as we harness the exceptional talent of our people and encourage the development of new synergy points to catalyze innovation throughout the company,” said Seligman. “I appreciate the confidence that Kaz and Michael have shown in me, and I’m eager to build upon a very productive, collaborative relationship in pursuit of our shared objectives for Sony Entertainment.”