Here’s yet another sign that Sony’s glory days are over, at least for now. It has agreed to sell its distinctive 37-story U.S. headquarters building at 550 Madison Ave. in March to a consortium led by commercial real estate company The Chetrit Group. Sony doesn’t have to move yet: It has a three-year leaseback agreement for the executive offices and businesses including Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. But the Tokyo-based company says the deal is needed to help strengthen its “financial foundation and business competitiveness and for future growth.” It expects net cash proceeds of about $770M, and plans to record about $685M in operating income. The gain, which takes advantage of the relatively strong demand for NYC real estate, plus an upgrade of the company by Goldman Sachs to “neutral” from “sell,” contributed to a 5.8% pop for Sony’s stock shortly after the market opened on Friday.
The building, designed by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee, struck many as a throwback when it was finished in 1984 to serve as AT&T’s headquarters. The ornamental top was said to resemble a Chippendale bookcase. Sony began to lease space there in the early 1990s and bought the building for $236M in 2002. It has served as an elegant base of operations for Sony executives who enjoyed its panoramic views of NYC, a small corporate dining room with some of the best sushi in town, and a state-of-the-art movie screening room. The building also has become a tourist destination with its indoor atrium next to the flagship Sony Store and the Sony Wonder Technology Lab — a free-of-charge tour that offers kids hands-on opportunities to learn about high-tech audio and video equipment.
Four Hollywood studios today had class action lawsuits filed against them that allege the short changing of home video royalties. If successful, the suits could result in a multi-million dollar windfall for the plaintiffs. In … Read More »
It’s not a very Happy Thanksgiving for Sony execs around America today. Because the ratings agency Fitch downgraded parent Sony’s debt rating to ‘junk’ status. The reason? Weakness in its consumer electronics and TV operations because of the superiority of … Read More »
Sony today recorded its seventh straight quarterly loss to 15.5B yen ($194M), but Q2 operating profit was up to 30.3B yen ($379M) for the period ending September 30. That’s compared to a loss of 1.64B yen in the … Read More »
Author Angela Wilder has sued the network, the companies and some head executives alleging that her idea for a talk show based on motherhood was the real inspiration for the CBS daytime series. “It’s one thing to get sued over a project that was pitched to us, but quite a stretch to be sued over a pitch that was made to somebody else. Ms. Wilder’s alleged offering to Sony played absolutely no part in the creation of The Talk. We’ll vigorously defend this case and expect to prevail,” said CBS today. Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, Aisha Tyler and Big Brother host Julie Chen co-host the CBS Television Studios and RelativityREAL produced show. CBS has always said that The Talk, which debuted in October 2010, is based on an idea by Gilbert. The Powerful Mate Syndrome author obviously disagrees. However, as made clear from the seven-count suit she filed on October 17, Wilder never actually met with anyone from either CBS or Relativity – though both are named among the defendants.
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Last weekend, Sony Pictures crossed the $1B domestic gross milestone thanks to strong performers that include The Amazing Spider-Man, Men In Black 3 and 21 Jump Street. Today, the studio is a mixed factor in … Read More »
The CBS, NBC Universal and Sony-owned Australian pay-TV channels TV1 and SF have pink-slipped four senior executives in a restructuring. Out are Director of Programming and Acquisitions Selena Crowley, Creative Director Will Usic, Publicity Director Michael Shephard and … Read More »
The struggling TV manufacturers will still sell their own sets. But the collaboration could result in a manufacturing process that would make the super thin and vivid but pricey organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays more affordable. Until this year, OLED was only available in the U.S. on screens smaller than 20 inches. But Samsung and LG plan to bring the technology — which doesn’t require a back light — to large sets. Apple’s also widely believed to be eyeing OLED displays for its TV set. The consumer electronics industry is eager for OLED to catch on: Worldwide TV shipments declined 8% in Q1 vs the same period last year, with LCD displays down for the first time ever, research firm NPD DisplaySearch reported last week. This is the first time that Sony and Panasonic have collaborated on TV set development. Here’s their release: Read More »
Sony can’t seem to catch a break. Its stock on the Tokyo exchange today fell below 1,000 yen, the first time that has happened since 1980, when the Walkman reigned. The 1.7% drop to 996 yen — equal to $12.75 … Read More »
BREAKING: Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have been tapped by Sony Pictures to rewrite the script for the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, the 3D Marc Webb-directed film that introduces Andrew Garfield as the webslinger and Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacy. Sony releases the franchise relaunch July 3. The first draft was done by Amazing Spider-Man scribe James Vanderbilt. Sony has tentatively scheduled production for the first quarter of 2013.
Kurtzman & Orci are no strangers to event-sized movies. Aside from Star Trek and the upcoming sequel, which they wrote along with Damon Lindelof, their credits include two Transformers films and Mission: Impossible III. They are repped by CAA and attorney Michael Gendler. The duo will receive exec producer credits on the Spider-Man sequel, which is produced by Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach and the late Laura Ziskin. Read More »
The studios — including Disney, Universal, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros and Fox — had attempted to stop customers of local Internet service provider iiNet from using BitTorrent software to illegally download movies. The High Court in Oz upheld previous rulings that iiNet wasn’t responsible for the piracy, dismissing the appeal unanimously. In a summary of its judgment, the court said iiNet had “no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent system to infringe copyright in the appellants’ films.” Led by Village Roadshow’s Roadshow Films, the studios initially filed suit in 2008 and were appealing earlier decisions and seeking damages including royalties on illegally downloaded movies, Bloomberg notes. This is not the end of the road, however, as it’s expected more ISPs will be targeted. The Sydney Morning Herald points out that the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), which has been representing the studios, is already pressuring the government to change copyright laws. On behalf of the film and TV business, AFACT said in a statement: “Today’s decision by Read More »
CEO Kazuo Hirai says his effort will result in major changes in the television and mobile businesses — and confirmed his plan to slash about 10,000 jobs this year, equal to 6% of Sony’s employees worldwide. But he … Read More »
This was the worst trading day so far in 2012 — the fifth consecutive day that the market was down, and the third time in the last four trading days that the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by … Read More »
The company’s U.S. shares are down nearly 8% in pre-market trading after it said that it lost about $6.4B in the fiscal year that ended in March — up from the $2.7B loss it projected in February. The difference is due … Read More »
The total represents about 6% of its workforce, according to multiple reports apparently beginning with Japan’s Nikkei. About half of the layoffs will come from Sony’s chemicals and its flat-panel businesses. Development Bank of Japan has already agreed to … Read More »
Just ahead of the planned early April launch of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s full Pottermore site for all things Hogwarts, e-book and audio book versions of all seven Harry Potter books were made available today on the site. … Read More »
Kazuo Hirai officially replaces Howard Stringer as Sony’s CEO next week. But today he signalled his determination to revitalize Sony’s struggling electronics operations — and potentially take on its more glamorous rival, Apple – by unveiling a wide-ranging reorg. The new plan eliminates the company’s consumer products and services group, which Hirai had led, and the business-oriented professional device and solutions group. Hirai will personally run a new Home Entertainment Business that will include TV sets, arguably Sony’s most important product right now. But the company says that it is “positioning digital imaging, game and mobile as the three core pillars of its electronics business, and going forward aims to concentrate its resources in these areas to further reinforce the businesses.” Here’s the company’s announcement: Read More »