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Activist investor Third Point offloads most of Sony holdings

Daniel Loeb's repeated requests to divest went unanswered

Sony`s stock price had risen 39% between the end of 2018 and the end of June 2020.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- A U.S. activist investor that had frequently clashed with Sony over its repeated requests for divestitures of noncore businesses sold most of its holdings in the Japanese technology company in the second quarter, Nikkei learned on Monday.

Third Point, an investment company run by billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, now owns 10,000 or fewer shares of Sony, according to its latest quarterly regulatory filings for the quarter ended June. The company had 670,000 shares, or 0.05% of Sony, at the end of March.

Under the rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, an investor needs to disclose in its quarterly filings any share ownership exceeding 10,000 shares.

Third Point's quarterly filings no longer list Sony among its investments. Third Point had been unloading Sony shares recently. Its ownership, totaling 1.5 million shares at the end of December, was reduced by more than half during the first quarter of this year.

Sony declined to comment.

The investment company went on to demand that the Japanese company spin off its entertainment business and allow it to go public, a request Sony flatly rejected, prompting Third Point to unload all its ownership of Sony shares by 2014.

Third Point subsequently acquired Sony shares again and in 2019 publicly called for Sony to spin off its semiconductor business and to sell shares of Sony Financial Holdings, a publicly listed subsidiary.

Instead, Sony wrapped up its full buyout of listed subsidiary Sony Financial Holdings in July, making clear it had no intention of taking Third Point seriously.

The U.S. investment company may have sold off Sony shares simply to reap profits. The stock had risen 39% between the end of 2018 and the end of June 2020.

Few investors have complained about the management of Sony recently as the company's performance has improved over the last several years, said Hideki Yasuda, analyst at Ace Research Institute.

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