Tony Vinciquerra (right) at NATPE 2018 (Credit: Simon Wilkinson for NATPE)

NATPE 2018: Vinciquerra Wants More Scale for Sony

CEO says he'd like to have acquired the Fox assets Disney snagged

Miami, Fla. -- Sony, like other media companies smaller than the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon, needs to grow to survive or else become "somebody's purchase," Sony Pictures Entertainment chair and CEO Tony Vinciquerra said during a NATPE conversation with Soledad O'Brien Wednesday.

Vinciquerra, the former longtime Fox executive who signed on at Sony in May, said Sony would like to have bought the Fox TV and movie studio assets that Disney is buying for $66 billion (including debt).

"The ironic part is I built most of the businesses that were sold so I knew them pretty well, and it would have been great to have them back," he said.

"We have to grow," he told O'Brien. "If we don't grow, we will be somebody's purchase. But that's not our goal, our goal is to grow. I didn't take the job to do it for a year and sell the company."

He said he was drawn to the Sony job partly because he thinks it's "the best positioned of any of the big media companies because of the parts of the business," ranging from consumer electronics to TV and movie production and channels around the world.

Still, with total market capitalization of about $60 billion, Sony is about one-tenth of the size of potential rival companies such as Google or Apple, he said.

Facebook, Google and Amazon see Sony and other content producers as sources of creativity to help the bigger companies meet their goals, which could mean selling more goods or making money from increasing searches, he said. But if the bigger outfits chose to, they could crush Sony. Therefore, "we have to have scale."

He said he had not discussed the possibility of combining with CBS with CBS chief Leslie Moonves but otherwise did not spell out potential pathways to bigger scale. "I think you will see us do several new partnerships and mergers with other companies that we are partners in their business and new businesses," he said. He cited the new partnership between Sony and Tegna local stations that was announced Tuesday at NATPE as an example.

When Disney-Fox and the contested (by the government) acquisition of Time Warner Inc. by AT&T get resolved, that could open the floodgates to other big deals or, if either deal crashes, that could prompt media executives to get more creative about combinations to achieve the desire of greater scale, Vinciquerra said.