Sony to Sell DeNA Stake to Book $438 Million Gain This Quarter

Sony Corp. will sell its entire stake in social-game website operator DeNA Co., the electronics maker’s fourth major asset sale this year as it tries to avoid a fifth straight annual loss.

The world’s third-largest TV maker expects to book a 40.9 billion-yen ($438 million) gain this quarter from the sale of 17.7 million DeNA shares to Nomura Holdings Inc., it said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. Sony will disclose the price tomorrow, and the sale is expected to close March 7, it said.

Sony sold a building in Tokyo last week for 111 billion yen to help meet Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai’s goal of posting 20 billion yen of net income in the year ending March 31. TV and mobile phone-making operations are losing money at the Tokyo-based company because of slow demand and competition from Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.

Nomura then said it will sell 6 million DeNA shares on March 7, leaving it with 8.7 percent of voting rights, according to a statement to the exchange.

Sony agreed in January to sell its 37-story New York headquarters to Chetrit Group for $1.1 billion. The company expects a profit of about $685 million from the deal.

M3 Stake

The electronics maker also predicted a 115 billion-yen gain following the sale of a stake in medical-data company M3 Inc. The largely paper gain mainly derives from a change in the way Sony accounts for its remaining stake in the health-care information provider.

The gain from selling DeNA is factored into Sony’s most recent forecasts, the electronics maker said, while reiterating that it’s reevaluating the effect of recent asset sales on its projections.

Hirai also agreed to sell a chemical unit and stakes in display-making ventures as he sharpens Sony’s focus on mobile devices, games and digital imaging. The company reiterated its full-year profit forecast of 20 billion yen last month.

The electronics maker rose 3.5 percent to close at 1,438 yen in Tokyo trading before the announcement. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.4 percent. Sony has climbed 50 percent this year, buoyed by a weaker yen that’s boosting earnings from overseas.

TV Slump

The manufacturer is heading for a ninth straight annual loss at its TV-making unit amid slowing demand and rising competition. Sales of Xperia smartphones and tablets also trail Apple’s iPhones and iPads, and Samsung Galaxy handsets.

The company’s credit rating was cut three levels to BB-, a non-investment grade, by Fitch Ratings in November. Slumping demand for TVs and weakened economic conditions at home and overseas will leave the company maker struggling to regain technological leadership, Fitch said at the time.

Sony raised 150 billion yen selling five-year convertible bonds in November, its first offering of similar securities since 2003. The inventor of the Walkman, which is cutting 10,000 jobs, lost about 31 percent of its market value last year.

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