Sony Corp gets its first non-Japanese CEO in Stringer

MUMBAI: In what can be called a rare move for a Japanese company; Sony Corp has named Sir Howard Stringer as its first non Japanese chairman and CEO. Sir Stringer currently is the head of Sony's US division.


The new development culminated this morning, wherein Sony's board agreed to appoint Sir Stringer. As a result of this, the company's present CEO Nobuyuki Idei will be stepping down after five years at the helm.

Sir Howard Stringer

This is the first time ever for Sony to name a foreigner to head the major Japanese electronics firm as the company seeks to improve results at its faltering core electronics business, for which, outgoing CEO Idei has taken the full responsibility.

Stringer, a former television journalist, will have a tough task of enhancing profitability at Sony. He has been with Sony since 1997 and has a reputation for intelligence and self-deprecating humour. Prior to joining Sony, he was with CBS television network as producer and executive.

According to a media report, Stringer oversaw Sony's decision to combine its music business with Bertelsmann AG in 2003 and last year's move to take over MGM. The appointments will be formally approved by shareholders on 22 June but the management transition will start immediately, the report added.

Stringer, who does not speak much Japanese, will remain based in the US. He was born in Wales and holds dual citizenship of UK and US.

The major corporate restructuring will also see Sony president Kunitake Ando being ousted. He will be replaced by Ryoji Chubachi, who is currently executive deputy president and chief operating officer for electronic components and manufacturing. According to one media report, Sony shares have tumbled around 60 per cent since Idei assumed the roles of chairman and CEO in June 2000.

Stringer was quoted in a media report as saying, "The world is simply not the same place it was a few years ago. The needs and expectations of our customers have changed. The dynamics of the competitive landscape have changed. The pace of innovation across all the businesses in which we compete have changed. So Sony too must change."

According to a media report, the corporate shake-up also included the resignation from Sony's board of directors of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc president and group CEO and Sony's home electronics and semiconductor businesses COO Ken Kutaragi. While, he will continue to head Sony's games business, he would be stepping down from the other positions.

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