Tokyo, Japan—Sony Corp. announced it is promoting Kazuo Hirai, 50, to head its consumer products unit, the company’s biggest division, and he will become executive deputy president on April 1. Sony CEO Howard Stringer commented that Hirai was in the lead to be his successor, according to Reuters.
The company also announced it is realigning its business divisions and Stringer, 69, who currently serves as Sony’s chairman, CEO and president, will retain his current positions.
“It’s a sign that Sony has exited the crisis mode that it’s been in since the Lehman shock. It can now move on from talk of restructuring to growth,” Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co., told Reuters.
Stringer, Welsh born and the first non-Japanese person to run the CE giant, is expected to step down in 2013, and the company has been researching potential replacements for some time.
“The board and I have talked about succession planning and this is the first step. We have not made a final decision,” Stringer told a news conference. “This is an opportunity for the board to watch Hirai san and judge his performance. There may be other candidates, but he has a leadership position.”
Hirai, who speaks English fluently and is known for his presentation skills, now heads Sony’s network products and services division, which includes its games business and newer ventures, such as music and movie-streaming services. “In his current role, Mr. Hirai has successfully led the turnaround of the games business,” Sony said in a statement.
The company also announced it is realigning its business into two core groups: one led by Hirai, which is responsible for consumer products and services and accounts for 60 percent of Sony’s turnover; and the other involving business-to-business areas, such as semiconductors, batteries and other key components, which will be led by Hiroshi Yoshioka.
“Yoshioka san has an opportunity to make a lot of money in his group, so the race isn’t over,” added Stringer, who became chairman and CEO of Sony in 2005 and added the role of president in 2009. sony.com