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Sony planning rejig of US division’s management

By | Published on Thursday 22 March 2012

Sony Music

Management at Sony’s US entertainment division is to be shaken up alongside the handover of executive power at parent company Sony Corp in Tokyo. As previously reported, current Sony Corp chief Howard Stringer is due to hand over the reins to Kazuo Hirai next month.

According to the Financial Times, the main winner in the move – expected to be confirmed when Hirai takes over in Japan – will be Michael Lynton, current CEO and Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It’s thought he will also take on the title of CEO of Sony Corporation Of America, which will mean that the firm’s music businesses – the Sony Music record companies and Sony/ATV music publishing operation – will come under his control.

That said, it’s thought Lynton will continue to focus day to day on Sony’s American film and TV studios, still working in partnership with his co-Chair at SPE Amy Pascal, leaving Sony Music boss Doug Morris and Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier to get on with running the music companies as they see fit. However, they will report to Lynton, who will be their main link into Sony Corp HQ and Hirai.

Also likely to expand her remit as part of the SCA rejig is Nicole Seligman, Sony’s General Counsel, who is expected to take the title of president of the US division, and will oversee all of its corporate functions, including finance and communications as well as legal.

Meanwhile it’s thought SCA’s current CFO, Rob Wiesenthal, will take on a new senior operational role at Sony/ATV should its acquisition of EMI Music Publishing get regulator approval, creating the biggest music publishing enterprise in the world, but one with a very complicated ownership structure.

All this rejigging has led to speculation that Sony’s key entertainment businesses will be left pretty much to their own devices under Hirai who, despite spending much of his Sony career on the entertainment side, and much time within its US business, is expected to focus his attentions on the conglom’s Japan-led electronics companies, which have been under-performing of late while the entertainment units – although facing tough challenges – have been performing OK.

Some also wonder whether this expected rejig is a sign that Sony might at some point spin off its US-orientated entertainment businesses into a separate entity, though that’s a plan Sony bosses deny exists.

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