Sony: An activist agitates for a spinoff
Hedge fund billionaire Daniel Loeb is pushing for Japan’s Sony (SNE) to spin off some of its most profitable assets. The unsolicited proposal may face an uphill battle in a nation that has long given a chilly reception to activist investors. Loeb, whose Third Point fund owns a 6.7 percent stake in Sony, has recommended that it spin off the profitable entertainment unit from the struggling electronics business via an initial public offering. The pitch comes as media stocks surge to all-time highs amid growing optimism that paid online streaming will help film and television studios weather a decline in DVD sales. Sony this month reported its first annual profit in five years, in part because of a weakening yen.
Retailers: A split in the response to Bangladesh
The world’s biggest retailers have thrown their support behind new safety measures in Bangladesh, almost a month after the collapse of a factory complex killed at least 1,127 garment workers. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) said it would conduct in-depth inspections at the 270 Bangladesh facilities that supply its inventory. But it stopped short of signing a safety pact endorsed by Hennes & Mauritz (HMB:SS) and Inditex (ITX:SM), operators of the H&M and Zara apparel chains, respectively, that would pay suppliers more so factory owners can afford safety upgrades.
Danone: Boosting its baby business
Danone (BN:FP), the French food and beverage giant, has agreed to buy Happy Family, a U.S. maker of organic baby food, for an undisclosed sum. Since its 2006 launch, Happy Family says it’s won roughly 4 percent of the American baby-food market, bringing in more than $60 million in revenue last year. Twenty percent of Danone’s 2012 revenue came from its baby-nutrition division.
85 Broads: Krawcheck invests
Sallie Krawcheck, a former senior executive at Bank of America and Citigroup, is buying 85 Broads, a global membership network of 30,000 professional women. Events hosted by the group often feature women with leading roles in their fields. Former Goldman Sachs exec Janet Hanson founded 85 Broads in 1997 with a focus on Wall Street; it’s since grown to include members in 130 countries. Hanson will keep an investment stake and become chairman emeritus. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Monsanto: A seed patent holds up in court
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case involving Monsanto (MON) affirmed that companies can block efforts to circumvent patents on self-replicating technologies. The justices unanimously upheld an $84,456 award against an Indiana farmer who, rather than buying genetically modified soybean seeds from a Monsanto-authorized dealer, used harvested soybeans containing the same technology to plant his crops. The decision may also affect makers of live vaccines, genetically modified salmon, and bacteria strains used in medical research.