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Sharp may boot chairman, advisers to hike president’s turnaround clout

Kyodo

Struggling Sharp Corp. may push Chairman Mikio Katayama into retirement and scrap advisory posts in a revival bid focused on concentrating power in the hands of President Takashi Okuda, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

Adviser Katsuhiko Machida, 69, and special adviser Haruo Tsuji, 80, who were appointed after leading the Osaka-based electronics giant, are also likely to retire, with Katayama, 55, and Machida considered responsible for expanding its loss-making liquid crystal display business, the sources said.

Sharp is slated to release its midterm business plan on May 14. Okuda, 59, is expected to take the lead in drastically restructuring its operations.

One Sharp executive contacted by Kyodo News denied any knowledge of Katayama’s retirement and said it was a matter for the chairman to decide on his own.

But his retirement appears inevitable amid pressure from Sharp’s main creditors. Mizuho Corporate Bank and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ have been urging that Katayma be removed because they think Sharp’s murky decision-making is linked to his presence, sources said.

After becoming president in 2007, Katayama launched an LCD factory in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. He stepped down and became chairman, with no representation rights, in 2012 due to poor performance but took charge of the LCD business in summer 2012.

He also played a leading role in negotiating a capital and business tieup with U.S. telecom device maker Qualcomm Inc. and South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co.

His attempt to regain representation rights during the process failed, however, amid opposition from creditors.