(Adds revenue details for entertainment unit, company strategy and past acquisitions)
By Sophie Knight
TOKYO, June 26 (Reuters) - Sony Corp’s movie and TV unit will snap up Britain’s CSC media network, adding to a string of acquisitions by the Japanese company to shift its focus from movies to higher-margin television programming.
Sony Pictures Television, the company’s TV programming and network unit, said on Thursday it would buy CSC for 107 million pounds ($180 million), acquiring 16 channels available on cable and satellite to bring its total channels in Britain to 25.
Sony’s chief executive Kazuo Hirai has pledged to strengthen its U.S.-based entertainment content business, a reliable profit driver for the Japanese firm along with its financial services, as he struggles to pull its electronics business into the black.
Sony Pictures Television will buy 100 percent of CSC’s shares, having struck a deal with majority shareholder Veronis Suhler Stevenson.
In the last business year to March 31, Sony’s TV network unit reported a 26 percent increase in sales to $1.5 billion while its movie unit revenue shrank 5.4 percent to $4.1 billion. The company is targeting a 4.5 percent increase in sales for the whole Sony Pictures business to $8.4 billion this year.
Sony Pictures currently owns or holds stakes in 64 channels around the world, having added two to its roster last year. It upped its stake in India’s Multi Screen Media, which had 499 subscribers as of March, to 100 percent this month, after increasing its shares in Game Show Network, a U.S. network to a majority stake in December 2012.
Last year, Hirai rebuffed activist investor Daniel Loeb’s proposal to spin off the entertainment unit into a separately listed company, saying it was important to fully own the business, but improved disclosure by publishing detailed quarterly figures for the unit’s operations.
$1 = 0.5956 British Pounds Additional reporting by Reiji Murai; Editing by Mark Potter