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Sony denies plan to sell ops

Exex still seeking to boost value of entertainment division

TOKYO — Sony Corp. on Tuesday denied a report out of London saying the electronics giant was considering the partial sale of its entertainment operations as part of a plan to boost shareholder value.

In a report by the Financial Times of London, Sony finance director Tamotsu Iba was quoted as saying, “We have gone through the options with our bankers, and these range from an IPO to selling the (entertainment) business to putting it in a joint venture.”

Sony spokesman Tetsuo Kanno in Tokyo said flatly, “We are not considering selling our entertainment business,” adding that the statements were taken out of context.

Sony executives said at a press conference that they were looking for ways to boost equity value and dispel the image that Sony is only an electronics company. Iba commented that the entertainment division may even be undervalued, Kanno said.

Sony execs have frequently declared that they are exploring ways of increasing the value of the entertainment division.

Iba was cited as saying that Sony executives thought the biggest concern for the company was the motion pictures division, not the music business, and that some sort of joint venture may be required to increase equity value.

He also reportedly said that Sony chairman Norio Ohga, a key player in Sony’s acquisition of Colombia Pictures in 1989, “seemed emotionally attached to the business.”

At the start of the year, Sony shocked the Japanese business world by announcing plans to pare down its work force and shut down overseas plants.

The move was received warmly by investors, who thought the restructuring was a wise move for the company, and they sent Sony shares on a temporary climb in Tokyo trading.