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Sony names Hirai as CEO and president in waiting

Stringer to cede posts on April 1 and become chairman of the board

Sony has named Kaz Hirai as the successor to Howard Stringer's roles as both president and CEO, effective April 1, 2012.

Stringer, who has lead the company in the joint role for seven years, will take up the position of chairman of the board, whilst current chairman Yotaro Kobayashi will retire.

Stringer has presided over a difficult period at the company, during which it has lost ground across many markets. Apple's iPod has devastated Sony's once seemingly insurmountable dominance of portable music players, whilst Samsung's televisions have also stolen a large portion of the corporation's consumer electronics business.

Meanwhile, the PlayStation business, which Hirai currently oversees, has come under continual pressure from a revitalised Nintendo and a persistent Microsoft.

Sony's business has also suffered from more than just market conditions. Last year's hacking scandal was estimated to have cost the company up to $24 billion.

Stringer was ebullient about the succession, praising Hirai's performance in his previous role.

The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and games; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains.

Kaz Hirai

"Three years ago, I started to work with the Board on succession plans, and in February, 2009 we named a new generation of leaders to be my management team," wrote Stringer in an announcement. "Among them was Kaz Hirai, who had distinguished himself through his work in the PlayStation and networked entertainment businesses.

"Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature. I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead.

"I look forward to helping Kaz in every way I can so that succession leads inevitably to success. It was my honor to recommend him to the Board for the positions of President and CEO, because he is ready to lead, and the time to make this change is now."

Hirai offered his support to the outgoing executive as well, noting that whilst the period of his leadership had proven to be tough for the company, Stringer had done a good job of damage limitation.

"As challenging as times are for Sony now, were it not for the strong leadership of Sir Howard Stringer these past seven years, we would have been in a much more difficult position.

"I am grateful to Sir Howard and to the Board for their confidence in me, and I look forward to working with everyone at Sony more closely than ever before to build a strong future for our customers, shareholders, partners and employees. The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and games; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains.

"The foundations are now firmly in place for the new management team and me to fully leverage Sony's diverse electronics product portfolio, in conjunction with our rich entertainment assets and growing array of networked services, to engage with our customers around the world in new and exciting ways."

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