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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sony to Spend $2.3bn to Make EMI Music Full Subsidiary, Outlines Content-centric Strategy


New Sony CEO Yoshida today laid out the company's direction at a corporate strategy meeting in Tokyo following the announcement of its $2 billion acquisition of a larger stake in EMI Music Publishing.

The Japanese company will pay about $2.3 billion to gain control of EMI, becoming the world's biggest music publisher in an industry that has found new life in streaming services.

The acquisition, which gives Sony a catalogue of more than 2 million songs from artists, is the biggest so far by new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.

The deal fits in with Yoshida's mission to make revenue streams more stable after his predecessor engineered a major turnaround that shifted the firm's focus away from low-margin consumer electronics to entertainment content and image sensors.

"This investment in content intellectual property is a key stepping stone for our long-term growth," he told a news conference.

EMI currently commands 15 percent of the music publishing industry which with the current Sony ATV business would make the Japanese entertainment and electronics giant the industry leader with market share of 26 percent.

Other major players include Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

Under the deal, Sony, which already runs EMI Music Publishing, will lift its ownership to roughly 90 percent from 30 percent currently by buying Mubadala Investment Company's holding.

Yoshida, who took the helm in April, said his strategy was to prioritize stable cash flow while minimizing the impact of volatile sales cycles of game consoles and other electronics gadgets.

Sony will build businesses around "communities of interest" that are created around movies, games and music, according to Yoshida. "Sony PlayStation is our largest 'community of interest' with 80 million monthly subscribers on the PlayStation Network," he said.

The three-year plan will be a continuation of the reforms implemented by his predecessor, in which he played a leading role.

In line with the strategy, Sony gave no operating profit target for the group in a new three-year business plan that the company announced on Tuesday.

Instead, the company said it aims to generate a total of 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) or more in cash flow over the next three years, up by 500 billion yen from the last three years.

Gaming and image sensors are set to remain the biggest profit contributors.

Sony sees operating profit at its semiconductor business, which includes image sensors, growing to 160-200 billion yen in the financial year ending March 2021, compared with a prediction of 100 billion yen for this year.

Extending the sensors' applications beyond smartphones into automotive areas would be key, Yoshida said.

But operating profit at its video games unit is expected to fall to between 130 billion yen and 170 billion yen, down from the 190 billion yen forecast for this financial year. At that time, its PlayStation 4 would be nearing the end of a game console's typical life cycle.

The company sold 19 million units of its Playstation 4 console in the fiscal year ended March, a drop of 5% from the previous year. Smartphone sales fell 7.5%.



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