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Hirai refuses to pull plug on Sony TV business

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said Thursday the company still expects to turn around its loss-making home electronics business, which includes TV sets, this fiscal year after completing restructuring.

“When I became president, (Sony) decided rebuilding the electronics business was the most important issue, and we have taken various measures,” Hirai told a news conference at Sony headquarters in Tokyo. “While the entertainment and financial businesses have grown more than expected, I’m ashamed that we still haven’t turned around the electronics business.”

Hirai said he takes Sony’s loss-making TV business very seriously but ruled out exiting the industry at this point.

He said fiscal 2014 will be a year to implement structural reforms “thoroughly” so Sony can move to a “growth phase” from fiscal 2015, saying it is aiming for a ¥400 billion operating profit in fiscal 2015.

Sony will spend ¥135 billion this fiscal year on structural reforms, including selling its PC division. It will also spin off TV assembly to a new company called Sony Visual Products Inc., to be established in July, in an apparent aim to speed up decision-making and run the business more efficiently.

Sony will also slash operational costs by 30 percent at its Tokyo headquarters and implement a 20 percent cost-cutting goal at its home electronics sales offices worldwide.

This will save the company more than ¥100 billion annually from fiscal 2015, it forecasts.

Sony posted a record group net loss of ¥456.6 billion in fiscal 2011 but returned to the black in fiscal 2012. After forecasting a net profit in 2013 as well, however, it wound up with a net loss of ¥128.4 billion after revising the forecast three times.

Its home electronics business posted losses for three consecutive years, with TVs in particular bleeding hard. Sony declared it could turn around the TV business in fiscal 2013 but failed. It has been in the red for 10 years in a row and chalked up losses of ¥790 billion.

On the positive side, Sony’s entertainment and financial services businesses have all been strong and become Sony’s main revenue sources.

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