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Billionaire investor Daniel Loeb thrusts Sony cost-cutting into the spotlight

The New York Times 2013 DealBook Conference in New York

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for The New York Times

Journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin (L) and billionaire investor Daniel Loeb participate in a discussion at the New York Times. Loeb has pushed for Sony to spin off its entertainment division.

Vanity Fair recently called him “Wall Street’s biggest bully.”

To George Clooney, he is a Hollywood “carpetbagger.”

Who attracts this kind of bicoastal hostility? That would be billionaire activist investor Daniel Loeb.

He didn’t attend Sony’s first-ever “Entertainment Investor Day", but his months-long campaign to break up the company was very much at issue during the Culver City event.

“It was the impetus to show our wares, and it’s been a pleasure, frankly," said Michael Lynton, the CEO of Sony Entertainment.

Loeb's proposal to break off the entertainment unit

In August, Sony’s board rejected Loeb’s proposal to spin off the entertainment unit from the rest of the company.

But they did vow greater transparency, which is what Thursday's investor day was all about.

For almost five hours, executives like Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai made their case for why the company is stronger as a single conglomerate.

“It really brings to the forefront the power that we bring as a company with all these various assets, and that’s something that’s unmatched in the industry, whether it’s the electronics or entertainment industry,” said Hirai.

Related:  Sony to cut $250M, reduce slate of films and lay off employees

Hirai promised to enact more cost-savings at what some, including Loeb, see as Hollywood’s most bloated studio.

Announced at the “Entertainment Investor Day" event - $250 million in cuts that will come from savings in international distribution and marketing, and most certainly layoffs.

The studio will also be releasing fewer films, focusing on its more profitable television business.

One of the most eagerly anticipated offerings is the “Breaking Bad” spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” which will be available for AMC to run next year.
 

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