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Sony Entertainment CEO resigns

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton has resigned from his post.

Michael LyntonLynton (pictured) is leaving the Culver City-based studio after 13 years, and just under two years after he became sole entertainment chief exec after Amy Pascal’s departure as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

He is also resigning from his post at the corporate executive officer of the wider Sony group, which is based in Japan.

He will remain with Sony Entertainment for the next six months “to ensure a smooth transition”, he told staff in an internal note announcing the resignation.

Tokyo-based Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai will take a second office in Culver City during this period and become SPE’s interim chairman and co-CEO, working with Lynton and other senior management execs until a new boss is in place.

Lynton and his wife are major shareholders in social messaging service Snapchat, which is preparing for an IPO that could be worth as much as US$40 billion. He will now focus solely on his role as Snapchat’s chairman.

“As some of you are already aware, I have been involved with Snapchat since its early days,” he said in the note. “Given Snapchat’s growth – and my growing role and responsibilities in it – I recently determined that the time was right to make a change.”

Lynton joined Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO and chairman in 2004, and later took on Sony’s music publishing business – and subsequently the entire Sony Entertainment business – in 2012. He became corporate executive officer of Sony in April 2016.

“Michael has had a long and illustrious career with Sony,” said Hirai. “For the last 13 years he has led our entertainment businesses though some of their greatest accomplishments, and more recently, helped guide them through some of the biggest challenges the film, television and music industries have ever faced.”

“I want to thank Sony Corp. – Kaz Hirai and Howard Stringer in particular – for their leadership and support over the years, and our excellent teams at Pictures and Music for their unwavering dedication to producing and distributing outstanding entertainment,” he added in a press release.

There is no immediate decision on a successor, though former Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko and DreamWorks Animation co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg are two well-known names touted in the US.

Mosko exited in June 2016, leading to a new structure in which new SPT presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg reported directly to Lynton.

The Sony emails hacking episode of 2015 and US reports had revealed tensions between Mosko and Lynton.