Sony's tracking stock offering is a first for the Japanese financial market.

SONY HAS A YEN
FOR RAISING FUNDS

Company Looks To Raise From $76.4-89.7 Million With Tracking Shares
Guess they're not selling enough Playstation2s...

Sony Corp. announced that it will try to raise 9.2-10.8 billion yen (that's $76.4-$89.7 million in good, old-fashioned Yankee benjamins) in funds by issuing tracking stock in a subsidiary that operates the Japanese answer to AOL, So-Net.

The consumer electronics giant has set an initial offer price of 3000-3500 yen for 3 million tracking shares in Sony Communications Network Corp. With each share, consumers get to have their picture taken with Sony Chairman/CEO Nobuyuki Idei, who said the issue will help his group determine the value of So-Net, which has 1.66 million subscribers by the end of last April.

The tracking stock issue is a rather common practice in the U.S., where companies use it to help them highlight the value of strategic business divisions or to raise funds for restructuring while maintaining full parent company ownership. Sony's tracking stock offering is a first for the Japanese financial market.

The book-building period for the shares begins Friday and ends June 8, with a price to be determined by June 11. Payment date is set for June 19. The Tokyo Stock Exchange has approved the listing of the tracking stock, which begins trading June 20. Sony shareholders approved the issue in January. Holders of the new tracking shares get the right to a dividend linked to how much the subsidiary makes for the parent company, and will gain the same voting privileges as regular Sony shareholders. Merrill Lynch and Nomura Securities are handling the offering.

Sony shares ended Tokyo trading down 2.45% to 9,170 yen. The company has shed more than 10% of its stock value since hitting a high for the year of 10,340 yen on May 22, though they are still up more than 16% since the start of the year.

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