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Newfound enthusiasm for Sony Corp., seen in a surging share price, owes much to Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai’s November 2013 decision to elevate someone from the Internet services unit to push through painful changes.

Four months later, Kenichiro Yoshida went from relative obscurity to become the CEO’s right-hand man and chief financial officer. The 55-year-old has used the mandate to cut jobs, sell off Sony’s iconic Vaio personal computer business, spin out its television set unit and rein in the company’s destructive market share ambitions in smartphones.

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