You're doing better Sony (SNE), but not good enough... yet.
That's the latest message from Dan Loeb, the firebrand hedge fund manager known for vociferously agitating for changes at some of the world's largest tech firms.
In a sign of "increased confidence," Loeb's Third Point hedge fund increased its stake in Sony to 70 million shares, or roughly 7%, from 6% in May.
At least part of Loeb's confidence seems to come from an expectation that the company will eventually do as he says. Loeb is pushing Sony to execute a partial spin-off of its entertainment division through an IPO, which would keep its electronics division separate.
Sony has repeatedly said the entertainment division is not for sale.
Loeb's involvement in the future of a company is a double-edged sword that cuts for or more often against management incumbents. If Loeb gets his way, Sony's CEO, Kazuo Hirai, would see his control over Sony diminished.
In a letter to Hirai obtained by CNNMoney, the activist investors best known for pushing for change at Yahoo! (YHOO) reiterated his request for a board seat.
Calling Sony's Entertainment division, a "sleeping giant," Loeb said that division needs a new board composed of individuals with "deep knowledge of media, entertainment, and digital technology."
A Sony spokesperson reiterated that the company will conduct an appropriate review of the Third Point proposal, but would not comment on specifics.
Sony may not have had much to say but StockTwits traders did.
Should be an interesting meeting. Neither Hirai nor the board has invited Loeb to discuss his proposals in person. They'll be gathering in Tokyo this Thursday.
Investors quickly responded to Loeb's latest overtures. The stock has been up more than 3% for the bulk of the day.
With a partially, semi-autonomous entertainment division, Loeb has said he wants Hirai to remain chairman of both boards-- a consolation prize of sorts if Loeb wins this battle.
One trader on StockTwits thinks that Loeb might find a band of Sony brothers willing to go to battle with him.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
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