Sony Investor Daniel Loeb Buys $1 Billion-Plus Stake in Japanese Web Giant

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Loeb's Third Point has built up billion dollar-plus stake in Softbank

Third Point, led by Loeb, has bought a stake of around 1 percent in mobile and Internet firm Softbank, which took over Sprint earlier this year.

TOKYO – Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who has been agitating for an entertainment division sell-off at Sony, has built up a more than $1 billion stake in Japanese mobile and internet giant Softbank, according to a report carried in the Financial Times and elsewhere.

Loeb revealed the position, around 1 percent of Softbank stock, at an investor conference on Thursday in New York that was closed to the media. His fund’s stake in Sony is reported to be 7 percent.  

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Softbank took over U.S. telecom operator Sprint in June for $21.6 billion, and also owns a stake in Chinese e-commerce portal Alibaba. Founded and led by Masayoshi Son, Softbank transformed the fortunes of the Japanese mobile phone operations it took over from British telecoms giant Vodafone, partly thanks to an exclusive deal to sell the iPhone in Japan.

What Loeb has in mind for Softbank remains to be seen.

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Although Loeb's proposals for Sony to dispose of part of its entertainment division were rejected by the Japanese conglomerate, at its investor day on Thursday in Los Angeles, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) seemed to have taken some of the activist investor's criticism on board. SPE co-heads Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton announced cost-cutting measures including a reduced movie slate for next year and a shift to higher margin TV productions and networks.

Loeb has yet to comment on the conference and the new Sony strategies. 

Twitter: @GavinJBlair