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Sharp chief promises a return to profitability

Kyodo

The president of struggling electronics maker Sharp Corp. vowed at a shareholders meeting Tuesday to do everything possible to turn its fortunes around in the current business year, while facing criticism for incurring massive net losses for the second straight year.

“We truly apologize for our severe performance, incurring a net loss of ¥545.3 billion” in the business year that ended in March, Takashi Okuda said at the start of the shareholders’ meeting in Osaka. “We will make utmost efforts to return to a net profit” this business year, he said.

Executive Vice President Kozo Takahashi, who will be promoted to president to succeed Okuda, said the company plans to make inroads to new business fields, including medical and robot operations, while improving its liquid crystal display business.

The company has been hit by slumping LCD television and panel sales amid severe competition with rivals overseas, particularly Samsung Electronics Co.

At the meeting, the company faced harsh criticism, with one shareholder saying, “Sharp is almost a bankrupt company.” Another urged executives to return all of their remuneration.

Shareholders approved proposals, including the appointment of nine board members — two of whom were dispatched from main creditor banks. The meeting lasted two hours and 20 minutes, longer than any previous shareholder meetings.

Mikio Katayama stepped down as chairman to become a senior executive fellow in charge of technology, while Katsuhiko Machida resigned as adviser and became a special adviser without remuneration and direct engagement in management, Sharp said.