Sony has an 8.2 percent stake in one of Japan’s biggest third-party game publishers, but that minority ownership is coming to an end.
The PlayStation company announced today that is selling 9.52 million Square Enix shares to investment company SMBC Nikko Securities, Inc. Sony expects to net a profit of around $47 million from the sale. Square Enix is currently trading for $16.47 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. This is part of Sony’s wider efforts to streamline its business. This will also free up some cash on its balance sheet.
Based on its current market value, Sony owns roughly $15.6 million in Square Enix stock. Sony will disclose the final sale price of its deal with SMBC tomorrow, and it will claim the earnings as part of the first quarter of its fiscal year.
Square Enix’s stock price reached a 52-week high earlier this year, but its value has slowly declined ever since. The stock dropped 2.5 percent in trading early today. That was before Sony announced its sell off. The publisher is not only continuing to make money from its classic line of Final Fantasy games but also from mobile and social releases in Asia. Square Enix is also seeing a return from its Western subsidiary Eidos, which has seen some success with games like Tomb Raider and Thief.
Sony is in a period of transition. While the PlayStation 4 is performing well, Sony’s traditional consumer-electronic markets have started drying up. People aren’t buying as many TVs as they were throughout the 2000s, and Sony has even sold off its Vaio PC business in February. The company is desperately trying to increase its profits, and getting out of Square Enix while it the stock is still at a price that is historically pretty high is a part of that strategy.
While up until this point Sony was one of Square Enix’s biggest shareholders, that didn’t really have much of an effect on how the Final Fantasy company operated. Square Enix released games on platforms other than Sony’s, for example. Likewise, Sony’s Square Enix sell off will likely not impact the day-to-day relationship between the two Japanese media conglomerates.