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Hirai to take charge of entire Sony consumer business

Stringer endorses PS3 boss as most likely CEO successor

Kaz Hirai, head of Sony's Networked Products and Services Group (including the PlayStation business), has been promoted to take charge of the firm's entire consumer electronics line.

Last year, rumours emerged that the existing Sony CEO, 69-year-old Welshman Howard Stringer, might step down in the near future, with Japan's Hirai tipped as a front-runner for his job.

Stringer somewhat endorsed these reports at a press conference attended by Reuters last night. "The board and I have talked about succession planning and this is the first step. We have not made a final decision," he claimed.

"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."

As of April, Hirai will find himself taking on the likes of TVs and set-top boxes in addition to Sony Computer Entertainment, as part of a restructuring which combines a number of Sony divisions into a new Consumer Products & Services Group.

Sony's semiconductor, battery and digital component business will remain separate, and headed up by Hiroshi Yoshioka.

Stated Sony Corporation chairman Yotaro Kobayashi, "Sony is now entering the second phase of its transformation towards new development and growth, under the leadership of Mr. Stringer.

"Sony's Board of Directors is pleased that Mr. Stringer has accepted our request to continue his leadership of the Company as Chairman, CEO and President, and we will fully support him and his newly configured senior management team."

Added Stringer himself, "This operational realignment will help accelerate Sony's growth and innovation by strategically focusing on our cross-Company goals and aggressively utilising our technological strengths, with the goal of providing great entertainment experiences and innovative solutions to customers around the world.

"The new responsibilities of Kazuo Hirai and Hiroshi Yoshioka will enable us to concentrate on and, as appropriate, quickly shift resources to, areas where they will have the greatest impact on our overall business."

Stringer claimed the restructures were the latest step in a "transformation" begun in 2009, and would be "the primary drivers of Sony's continued growth and success."

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Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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