Home / Companies / Sony promotes Kenichiro Yoshida to CEO, Kazuo Hirai to take over as chairman

Tokyo: Sony Corp. will promote Kenichiro Yoshida to chief executive officer, rewarding its finance head for helping to restore earnings and the balance sheet of the Japanese electronics icon.

Kazuo Hirai will step down to become chairman of the Tokyo-based company, while Hiroki Totoki will become the new chief financial officer, Sony said in a statement Friday. The changes will take effect 1 April. Sony shares rose 2% immediately after the announcement.

Yoshida, 58, is highly regarded by analysts and investors for his role in bringing financial discipline to Sony after years of losses from consumer electronics. Together with Hirai’s focus on profitability over growth, the pair have steered the Japanese icon to recovery, with the company projected to post record full-year earnings this fiscal year.

“This is a very orderly change and the market is likely digest it without much discomfort, or perhaps even take it positively," said Kazunori Ito, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Services in Tokyo. “Sony’s turnaround really didn’t take off until Yoshida was appointed."

Under their reign, Sony’s sold off its Vaio personal-computer business, reshaped its TV set unit and focused the mobile business away from a destructive fight for market share. The company has used image sensors and PlayStation games to rebuild the company.

The company is due to report December quarter earnings later on Friday after the market close. Analysts predict that operating profit will nearly quadruple to ¥ 231 billion ($2.1 billion) on robust PlayStation sales and higher sales of image sensors used in new smartphone models.

Yoshida, a 30-plus year Sony veteran, spent much of his career outside the company’s core electronics operations, including stints in the US, the finance division and investor relations. From 2000 to 2013, he mostly worked for So-net, rising to the head of the unit in 2005 and taking it public.

When he was tapped to rejoin the head office as chief strategy officer and deputy CFO in December 2013, Sony praised Yoshida’s successes in developing the network, communication and media businesses. Bloomberg

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