Panasonic Corp. will revamp its main management group to pare its size as it aims to shift away from its money-losing television business to more profitable batteries and solar cells.
“We aim to make a v-shaped recovery, no matter what it takes,” President Fumio Otsubo, 66, said Wednesday at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Osaka. “We intend to simplify the headquarters function this fiscal year.” Otsubo became chairman later in the day and was replaced as president by Kazuhiro Tsuga.
Panasonic, Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp. are all seeking shareholder approval this week for new leaders after a decline in television prices, the yen’s gain, floods in Thailand and last year’s earthquake led them to post a combined ¥1.6 trillion in net losses for the business year that ended March 31.
Panasonic, the world’s largest maker of plasma TVs, has been trying to boost sales of energy-saving appliances and solar panels in an attempt to move away from its money-losing TV operation.
Panasonic, the biggest employer among the nation’s publicly traded companies with 330,767 employees as of March 31, eliminated 36,000 jobs last year and may further streamline operations, it said May 29.
Tsuga was promoted to the top job after he took steps to stem the company’s losses from TVs. The executive, who spent most of his career in Panasonic’s research operations, suspended three of five TV-panel factories within a year after taking charge of the audio-visual products unit in April 2011.
Panasonic’s TV unit will probably turn profitable in the fourth quarter this business year after four consecutive years of losses, the company said in May.
In May it projected net income of ¥50 billion for this fiscal year, compared with a ¥772 billion loss last fiscal year. The company’s record loss stemmed partly from a total of ¥250 billion in charges to write down assets related to Sanyo Electric Co.
Otsubo apologized to shareholders for the company’s decline in market value.
“We’re sorry about the decline in our share price and we intend to revive earnings to relieve shareholder concerns about this,” Otsubo said.
Sony revival promise
Sony Corp. President Kazuo Hirai, in an address to shareholders Wednesday, promised to revive the company through concentration of its core businesses after it incurred its biggest-ever group net loss in the business year that ended in March.
“Currently, Sony’s electronics business is placed in a very severe environment,” Hirai, who became president and chief executive officer in April, told a general shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo. “I’m strongly aware of this and I will definitely change Sony for revival.”
The electronics maker was in the red last business year for the fourth consecutive year, posting a group net loss of ¥456.66 billion.
As the company sought shareholder approval for its executive roster, including Howard Stringer, former president and CEO, some shareholders voiced opposition, with one saying management should be reshuffled after posting heavy losses in recent years with Stringer at the helm.
The company defended the reappointment of Stringer as a board member, saying he has broad experience in the electronics and entertainment businesses and it expects him to fully demonstrate his capability to help the new management get off to a smooth start.
A record 9,303 shareholders attended the meeting, according to the company.
Hirai said the company will focus its resources on rebuilding its mainline electronics business by enhancing its digital imaging, gaming and mobile businesses, while aiming to achieve profitability in its television business in fiscal 2013.
He said the company plans to expand its medical business through forming alliances with other firms and delivering its components. On a widely reported possible capital and business tieup with camera and medical device maker Olympus Corp., he only said the company has not made any announcement.
For restructuring, Sony has said it will carry out selection and concentration of its businesses and cut some 10,000 jobs across the entire group.
In the TV business, in which Sony incurred a loss for the eighth straight year in fiscal 2011, the company and Panasonic Corp. have agreed to jointly develop displays and other parts for new-generation organic electroluminescent TVs.
Nomura Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Kenichi Watanabe apologized Wednesday to shareholders because his firm is being investigated for insider trading investigation, according to a company spokeswoman.
The company is sorry it caused trouble, Watanabe told an annual gathering in Tokyo closed to the media, spokeswoman Keiko Sugai said. He said Japan’s biggest brokerage will sincerely make efforts to restore confidence, according to Sugai.
Watanabe is under pressure to respond to the investigation that has enveloped banks, including Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Nomura said this month employees leaked information used for trading before share sales the firm managed in 2010.