Sony Pictures Entertainment seems to be signalling that it will be a buyer and not a seller in the wave of media consolidation currently sweeping across the entertainment industry.
On Monday, the company announced the appointment of Erik Moreno to the position of executive vice president, corporate development and M&A. He joins Sony after stints at Time and Fox Networks Group, where, Sony was quick to note in its release, he had experience in mergers and acquisitions. Moreno is being tasked with developing “growth strategies,” which Sony says includes “identifying potential partnership or acquisition prospects.” He starts next month.
He joins Sony at a time of tectonic shifts in the movie and television businesses. Time Warner has been purchased by AT&T and rechristened WarnerMedia, Disney is putting the finishing touches on its deal for much of Fox studio, and Comcast and Fox are locked in a battle for control of BSkyB. Companies are getting bigger and trying to achieve greater scale as a way to stave off competition from streaming services such as Netflix, as well as the incursions of technology titans like Apple and Amazon into the content space.
Sony, which has often fit awkwardly into its parent company’s electronics and gaming operations, is frequently seen as a potential acquisition target. That speculation intensified after Kaz Hirai, a fan of the movie and television business, stepped down in March and was replaced by CFO Kenichiro Yoshida, who is believed to have less of an attachment to Hollywood.
Despite the change at the top, Sony’s leadership has maintained that the studio is not for sale, even as it has acknowledged that it needs to rethink its strategy in order to compete with the Disneys and WarnerMedias of the world. In January, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Tony Vinciquerra admitted that the company had to find ways to bolster its offerings or risk ending up as someone’s lunch.
“If we don’t grow, we will be somebody’s purchase,” Vinciquerra said. “I didn’t take the job to do it for a year and sell the company.”
In addition to the Moreno appointment, Sony said Lauren Glotzer, who has served as executive vice president of corporate development, will begin a new role as executive vice president of television strategy and operations. She will report to Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins.
Moreno comes to Sony after serving as exec VP and president of corporate development, new ventures and investments at Time, Inc. He also worked at Fox Networks Group as senior vice president of corporate development. Moreno’s resume includes work at eBay, Level 3 Communications, and Gleacher & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisition.
Presumably one of Moreno’s first tasks will be finding a partner for Crackle. Last week, Sony said it wanted to find a company to team up with in order to grow the streaming service.