Sony Pictures Ent. confirmed that it is pondering an equity partnership for Sony Pictures Imageworks & Sony Pictures Animation, as reported in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
The studio is considering selling up to half of Sony Animation, according to THE TIMES, and has hired the investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to assess the value of the two divisions, which is estimated at around $500 million.
However, Sony does not intend to break up the two units because of the uniquely unified structure of its production environment, in which the Imageworks talent and pipeline encompass all three CG spectrums: live-action vfx (SPIDER-MAN 3), animation (SURF'S UP) and the performance capture hybrid (BEOWULF).
The company issued the following statement:
"As we have in other areas of our business, we are open to exploring equity partnerships, and it's no surprise that there is market interest in our visual effects and animation businesses. Having worked on everything from SPIDER-MAN and SUPERMAN to POLAR EXPRESS and BEOWULF, Imageworks is one of the most respected visual effects studios in the industry. Sony Pictures Animation has produced two critically acclaimed films [OPEN SEASON and SURF'S UP], and we continue to maintain a strong commitment to making animated movies going forward."