There’s less than meets the eye to a regulatory filing in Japan that seemed to show that hedge fund Third Point is no longer one of the top 10 investors in Sony. The filing, first reported by Reuters, appeared to indicate that fund manager Daniel Loeb is retreating after the company in August rebuffed his proposal urging it to spin off a minority stake in its movie, TV and music entertainment assets. But Third Point fell off the top 10 list because it shifted shares to different names, and into swaps that are not reported, I’m told. The changes give the fund more flexibility to maneuver outside the public eye, although it’s still in close contact with Sony management. Last month Loeb told his clients in a report that Sony remained one of Third Point’s “current core investments” (with Softbank and T-Mobile) and that he saw “the potential for increased value in 2014.” Sony’s rejection of his proposal “proved costly for shareholders” leading the company’s stock to “trade significantly below their sum of the parts valuation.” Sony’s U.S. shares are +21% for the last 12 months but -13% in the last six months. Still, Loeb said that he had “high hopes for CEO [Kazuo] Hirai and his lieutenants to continue their path towards greater profitability and to make difficult decisions when necessary to reach those goals.” The fund said in May that it owned 7% of Sony; it was the No. 5 shareholder in September with 1.6% in its name. Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.
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