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Sony on Thursday brought on board former Fox Filmed Entertainment chair Tom Rothman to launch TriStar Productions. Rothman has a reputation for being fiscally conservative, which has caused some observers to speculate that launching TriStar with him is a move to placate activist investor Daniel Loeb, who has been badgering Sony to spin off what he calls its “bloated” entertainment business.
If Rothman focuses on making four to six inexpensive movies per year, Loeb, whose Third Point hedge fund owns about 7 percent of Sony and is its largest stakeholder, might not gripe so much to Sony CEO Kaz Hirai about Sony Pictures bombs like White House Down and After Earth, the thinking goes. But Loeb, who parlayed $3 million he collected from family and friends 18 years ago into a $13 billion hedge fund, isn’t normally satisfied with smallish moves like reviving the TriStar label, so he’ll likely stick around until he figures he’s made a hefty enough profit to sell. With Yahoo, it took him about a year before he cashed out the majority of his holdings for about a $610 million pretax profit, whereas he only began publicly agitating Sony to spin off its entertainment assets about 10 weeks ago.
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