Sony Hack: Lionsgate Sought Merger Talks With Sony, Says Report

Lionsgate Entertainment made an approach to Sony Corp. in the middle of this year, according to Sony emails leaked by hackers.

The Reuters news agency today reported that the emails show a conversation between activist investor Daniel Loeb and Nicole Seligman, president of Sony Corp. of America, and between Seligman and Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

Seligman reported Loeb as saying in mid August that Lionsgate executives wanted to meet Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai, “to toss around ideas for a merger or acquisition.”

Hirai declined the meeting, but expressed interest in collaboration at an operational level.

Lynton apparently responded that it would be “very disruptive” if the ‘lionsgate stuff gets out.”

Sony Corp. at the time was under pressure from Loeb to spin off the profitable SCE from the rest of the consumer electronics to games group which has been struggling for years to fend off a succession of loss-making issues. Sony considered, but rejected Loeb’s spinoff idea, and in October Loeb revealed that he had sold his Sony stock.

Lionsgate has this year also been the focus of merger and acquisition speculation with both China’s Alibaba and Wanda touted as possible suitors.

Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns wrote to both Hirai and Seligman again on Sept 6. announcing: “we remain very intrigued by the possibility of working together.”

On Sept. 18 Hirai wrote back: “Given our entertainment business strategy, I don’t believe a meeting with me would be fruitful or a good use of your time.…. However, we are always interested in the possibility of smart collaboration between studios at the operational level.”

Reuters said that it was unable to establish the authenticity of the documents and emails. Daniel Leob’s Third Point hedge fund is an investor in Variety.

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