Sony shedding Shine

Elisabeth Murdoch's firm posted $40 mil profit in 2008

LONDON -- Sony Pictures Entertainment is selling off its 21% stake in Shine, Elisabeth Murdoch's rapidly expanding drama and reality production company, on fears that it was becoming too much of a competitor.

Shine owns the Reveille and Kudos units and recently signaled major global expansion plans with the launch of units in Germany, France and Australia, and with the purchase of Scandi film and TV group Metronome. The company has appointed investment firm JP Morgan to look at options for the sale of all or part of the stake, a spokesman said.

"While Shine is grateful for Sony's support, it has become apparent over the past 18 months that Shine has grown to become a natural competitor to Sony, both through its acquisition program and organic expansion, including into the film and digital areas," Shine said.

"JP Morgan has an active brief to look at Shine's corporate structure going forward, to facilitate additional start-up businesses, evaluate substantial acquisitions and to invite select strategic partners to invest in the company."

Sony took a minority stake in Shine in 2005, when it also agreed to be a distribution partner for the production company set up by Murdoch in 2001 after she left satcaster BSkyB.

Shine since has grown through acquisitions, posting operating profit of £25 million ($40 million) on revenue totaling £239 million ($384 million) in 2008.