How crazy are fans for comic-book movies? Hours after activist investor Daniel Loeb released a letter arguing that Sony (NYSE: SNE ) should make better use of its entertainment assets, the Internet was ablaze with rumors that the company might sell the rights to make Spider-Man movies back to Marvel and parent Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) . Sony has since said it plans to consider Loeb's proposal yet makes no mention of disposing any of its assets.
It's hard to blame fans for getting the story wrong. Spidey is Marvel's most visible character, and Loeb is Sony's largest shareholder through his fund, Third Point LLC. He wants the company raising capital for bolstering Sony's important-but-beleaguered electronics division. An asset sale would be a natural option, says Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova in the following video.
Unfortunately, Loeb's idea is more complicated. He wants to take 15% to 20% of Sony Entertainment public and make the resulting stock available primarily to management as a carrot to boost performance of movie assets such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is filming now.
Surprised? Don't be. Last year, Disney agreed to forfeit Marvel's claim to Spider-Man film rights in exchange for 100% of the merchandising haul. Disney might gain some influence were it to buy into a Sony Entertainment IPO, but that's presuming Sony executives take Loeb's proposal serious enough to go through with an offering. And that's anything but a guarantee, Tim says.
Do you agree? Please watch to get Tim's full take, and then leave a comment to let us know how you would unlock Spidey's big-screen value.