Former Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer has emerged as an early favorite to succeed Lord Patten as chairman of the BBC Trust although Lady Marjorie Scardino is also being mentioned as the first woman who might fill the role.
Sony Corp. Board Chairman Sir Howard Stringer, who became the first non-Japanese executive to lead the company, said he will retire in June. Stringer, 71, will step down at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, he said yesterday in a speech at the Japan Society in New York. Kazuo Hirai, 52, succeeded him as CEO almost a year ago.
Frustrated investors at the company’s annual meeting in Tokyo grilled new President Kazuo Hirai and other board members, demanding to know how the company’s past glory was going to be revived. One shareholder asked why Howard Stringer, whom Hirai replaced, was staying on as chairman when Sony’s performance had been so dismal under his seven-year tenure.
Sony Corp. said today that Vice President Kazuo Hirai will take over the roles of CEO and president on April 1 from Howard Stringer, who will retain the chairman’s post as the company struggles to regain its standing in the consumer electronics sector in which it was once a driving force.
Sony veteran Kazuo Hirai will be the company’s next president, Japan’s Nikkei business daily reports. Current CEO Howard Stringer will remain the chairman and CEO of the company, the report says. The executive shuffle, it’s said, will be finalized sometime this month, with Hirai taking the post in April.
Sony Corp. Chairman and CEOmay only have two more quarters to weather at the helm of the Japanese electronics giant before passing the mantle to his successor. Sources familiar with the situation said they expect Stringer — who took the reins in March 2005 — to step down as chief executive at the end of its fiscal year in March. If he opts to relinquish the CEO title, Stringer will likely stay on as chairman, sources said.
Six years after taking the helm of Sony in a surprise appointment, Howard Stringer has yet to show much more than a glimmer of a turnaround at the troubled company he inherited. On Thursday, the company, which is based in Tokyo, confirmed that the damage from Japan’s natural disasters in March — and the havoc dealt to Sony’s supply chains in their aftermath — had forced it to take tax-credit provisions that resulted in a $3.2 billion net loss for the business year just ended. The loss was Sony’s biggest deficit in 16 years, and its third in a row.
Tohoku, the region in Japan hit hardest by the natural disasters, has long been an important manufacturing base for Sony, which is Japan’s largest consumer electronics exporter. Two of the company’s sites in that area, a Blu-ray disc factory and a research and development lab, were badly damaged by flooding; about 1,100 employees were trapped on upper floors.
A massive new consumer group will be led by Kazuo Hirai, a rising executive who has overseen a recovery in Sony’s video game business. The move likely sets the stage for him to one day take over for current CEO Howard Stringer.