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Sony confirms 'tough-minded' Hirai as new CEO, president

Ex-PlayStation exec grabs reins as Stringer rises to board chairman

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Sony has announced that a new president and CEO will take over from Howard Stringer on 1 April, while Stringer becomes chairman of the board.

Kazuo Hirai was already tipped to take over from Stringer when he was appointed to head of consumer products and services, the Sony Corporation's main business, and last week, Japanese media were reporting that Stringer's time was almost up.

According to Sony, Stringer recommended Hirai to the board to take over the head honcho role.

"Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature," Stringer opined in a canned statement from Sony. "I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead."

New blood may be just what Sony needs on the throne in the next year, as it takes full ownership of Sony Ericsson and tries to align its tablets and smartphones with its console successes.

Sony has been struggling to carve out a chunk of the mobile market, and many commentators feel bringing some PlayStation magic to their handsets and fondleslabs could turn their fortunes around.

Televisions have been another troublesome area, not just for Sony, but for pretty much everyone in the sector and of course, as a Japanese firm, Sony's profits have been hit by the strong yen.

The company has forecast its fourth year of net losses in a row for the fiscal year ending in March. Sony expects to be down 90 billion yen ($1.2bn) by then, despite selling off its half of the S-LCD panel-manufacturing joint venture with Samsung to the Korean firm.

Stringer, who will be turning 70 next month, has been at Sony since 1997 and has been sitting in the driving seat since 2005. He will stay on as chairman of Sony until his ascension to chairman of the board in June at the annual meeting of shareholders. ®

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