• Compiled From Staff Report, Kyodo


Struggling electronics giant Sony Corp. announced Friday that its president, Ryoji Chubachi, 61, will step down and Chief Executive Officer Howard Stringer, 67, will serve as both chairman and president starting April 1.

The board members have endorsed the decision and the Sony group will strive for “faster implementation” of its strategy, with Stringer controlling the management of the electronics business, the company said Friday.

“This is the largest recession in our lifetime, the largest depression in our lifetime,” Stringer said at a news conference in Tokyo. “But in difficult times . . . there is opportunity.

“And this is an opportunity that I welcome to put in a new team of management to add to the excitement of our company and take it in new directions,” he said.

The personnel reshuffle was announced as the company is suffering from slumping sales of its mainstay flat-screen TVs and other electronics products, as well as the yen’s steep appreciation. Sony is anticipating its largest-ever operating loss, of ¥260 billion, for the year to March 31.

Chubachi will become vice chairman, Sony said while announcing other changes to its top management, including Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. President Kazuo Hirai, who will double as head of Sony’s network products and services group.

“This reorganization is designed to transform Sony into a more innovative, integrated and agile global company with its next generation of leadership firmly in place,” Stringer said.

Sony will launch two new groups, Network Products and Services Group, and Consumer Products Group.

Some analysts welcomed the company’s move.

“We can see that they are ready to further change the company from the top-down,” said Nobuo Kurahashi, analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. He suggested, however, the managerial change itself will not likely boost the company’s business.

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