Sony Hack: Lionsgate Wanted to Discuss Merger, Acquisition

DOWN: Kaz Hirai

The new Sony CEO doubles the company's projected annual loss to $6.4 billion, its worst ever, and will trim 10,000 jobs. (Big layoffs at the film and TV studios are not expected.)

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai declined a meeting request, but said the company was open to "smart collaboration between studios," according to reports based on leaked emails

Lionsgate executives last summer wanted to meet with Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai to discuss a possible merger or acquisition involving Sony's studio, Bloomberg News reported late on Tuesday, citing emails found in documents stolen by hackers.

Hirai declined to meet them, but expressed interest in possible cooperation, the report said, citing emails to and from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton released by the hackers.

Activist investor Daniel Loeb had made a push for Sony to partially spin off its entertainment business and told Sony Corp. of America president Nicole Seligman in August last year that Lionsgate executives wanted a meeting, but that he would stay out of any talks, according to one email from Seligman to Lynton that the report cited. She said that Lionsgate wanted "to toss around ideas about a possible merger or acquisition."

Lynton responded that it could be "very disruptive" if news of the Lionsgate request became public, a Reuters report on the same topic quoted from another email.

In early September, Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns emailed Hirai and Seligman to suggest a meeting, saying "we remain very intrigued with the possibility of working together," Reuters said.

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Hirai declined the meeting request later in the month, according to Bloomberg. "However, we are always interested in the possibility of smart collaboration between studios at the operational level," he wrote, suggesting Burns contact Lynton or Seligman.

The Bloomberg and Reuters reports said that Sony and Lionsgate declined to comment on the issue.

Twitter: @georgszalai