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Sony to buy Britain’s CSC media group in TV network push

Reuters

Sony Corp.’s movie and TV unit will snap up Britain’s CSC media network, adding to a string of acquisitions designed to shift its focus from movies to higher-margin television programing.

Sony Pictures Television, the company’s TV programing and network unit, said on Thursday it would buy CSC for £107 million ($180 million), acquiring 16 channels available on cable and satellite to bring its total channels in Britain to 25.

Sony’s chief executive Kazuo Hirai has pledged to strengthen its U.S.-based entertainment content business, a reliable profit driver along with its financial services, as he struggles to pull its electronics business back into the black.

Sony Pictures Television will buy 100 percent of CSC’s shares, having struck a deal with majority shareholder Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

In the most recent business year to March 31, Sony’s TV network unit reported a 26 percent increase in sales to $1.5 billion while its movie unit revenue shrank 5.4 percent to $4.1 billion. The company is targeting a 4.5 percent increase in sales for the whole Sony Pictures business to $8.4 billion this year.

Sony Pictures owns or holds stakes in 64 channels around the world, having added two to its roster last year. It upped its stake in India’s Multi Screen Media, which had 499 subscribers as of March, to 100 percent this month, after increasing its shares in the Game Show Network, a U.S. network, to a majority stake in December 2012.

Last year, Hirai rebuffed activist investor Daniel Loeb’s proposal to spin off the entertainment unit into a separately listed company, saying it was important to fully own the business, but improved its disclosure by publishing detailed quarterly figures for the unit’s operations.