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The newly appointed president of Hitachi Ltd. pledged Thursday his firm would place greater importance on shareholders and strive for an 8 percent return on equity within four years.

Etsuhiko Shoyama also said he intends to trim the firm’s 67,500-strong workforce by 6,500 by the end of fiscal 1999 in March next year, including those who would be transferred to companies that will be spun off. “My only mission is to turn Hitachi into a highly profitable company,” Shoyama, who assumed his new post the same day, said at a press conference in Tokyo.

The electronics giant is projected to post its largest-ever net loss of 375 billion yen on a consolidated basis for fiscal 1998, which ended Wednesday.

Shoyama, who was promoted from executive vice president, said he will draw up a midterm management plan within six months to select key business areas that the Hitachi group will focus on and those nonstrategic ones from which it will withdraw.

Hitachi will accelerate efforts for mergers and acquisitions and look into the possibility of forming alliances with other companies during its restructuring process, Shoyama said. Financial and information-related services will be the key strategic segments that the Hitachi group will put particular focus on, he added.

On Thursday, former President Tsutomu Kanai became chairman and former Chairman Katsuhige Mita became honorary chairman. As part of its restructuring efforts, Hitachi reorganized itself the same day into 10 in-house companies, shifting greater power to lower sections in an effort to fix its slow, bureaucratic decision-making system.

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