December 18, 2014

Sony hack shows merger attempt by Lions Gate

The recent hack of correspondence inside Sony revealed executives' unflattering assessments of stars like Angelina Jolie, leaving writers and film producers scrambling to undo the damage of their catty emails. The hack, thought to possibly have been conducted as retaliation against the release of The Interview, a comedy that lampoons foreign policy with North Korea, unearthed more than just Hollywood maneuvering and gossip. According to Bloomberg, documents obtained by the press show that Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. approached Sony to engage in merger negotiations, a bid that was unsuccessful. 

Lions Gate Films, whose recent juggernaut releases of The Hunger Games series have captivated audiences and the international box office, is said to have approached Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton to discuss the possibility of an acquisition. Emails show that while Sony brass were amenable to collaborative efforts in the future, a merger was unlikely to be "fruitful" for the company at this time.

Sony, a Japanese company, is reported to be at least the second global entity headquartered in Asia that Lions Gate approached. Executives approached Dalian Wanda Group Co., a Beijing-based media company with controlling interest in American cinema chains. While Lions Gate allegedly was open to selling a minority stake to the firm, the Chinese company were interested in more. 

The hack, and the fallout from compromised correspondence, are a reminder to companies engaged in merger talks about the importance of cyber security and data protection. This fall, hackers targeted merger talks for healthcare deals. In the age of ever-diminishing privacy, digital paper trails can expose embarrassing and private details about business mergers and acquisitions. It's yet to be seen if Lions Gate will find a satisfactory buyer, but until then, the lesson is clear: invest in firewalls and be careful what you type.