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Old 07.03.2005, 07:47   #1
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Default Впервые главой SONY стал иностранец

Sony Names Stringer as CEO to Revive Profit Growth (Update5)
March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp., the world's second-largest consumer electronics company, named Howard Stringer as its first non-Japanese chief executive, turning to the head of the entertainment unit after the stock slid 73 percent in five years.

Stringer, a 63-year-old U.S. citizen, will replace Nobuyuki Idei, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. Stringer, a former CBS television news executive who joined Sony in 1997, has helped boost profit from entertainment businesses with movies such as the ``Spider-Man'' series.

The American, who oversaw Sony's $2.9 billion purchase of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., faces the task of integrating the entertainment and electronics businesses. Sony, which makes Vaio computers and PlayStation game consoles, cut its earnings forecast in January as competition with Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Computer Inc. drove down prices of TVs and consumer goods.

``Shareholder discontent led to the change,'' said Atsuto Sawakami, who oversees the equivalent of $859 million, including Sony shares, as president of Sawakami Asset Management Inc. in Tokyo. ``I hope this management change will restore the old Sony, which was renowned for its advanced technology.''

Shares of Sony gained 1.5 percent to 4,070 yen, the highest in eight months, at the 3 p.m. close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The company's $36 billion stock market value is similar to that of Apple, the maker of iPod music players, which has a ninth of Sony's annual sales.

Matsu****a Electric Industrial Co., the world's biggest consumer electronics maker, has dropped 44 percent in value in the past five years, while Samsung Electronics surged 90 percent during the period, giving it a capitalization of $75 billion.

Management Changes

Ryoji Chubachi, 57, an executive deputy president, will take over from Kunitake Ando, 63, as Sony's president, the company's statement said. Ando and Idei, 67, will remain as advisers.

``The lack of focus on the right strategies and products has disappointed Sony investors,'' said Hisakazu Amano, who oversees the equivalent of $383 million at T&D Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. ``A change in management will be welcomed.''

Stringer, who has been chief operating officer of Sony since November 2003, would be the first foreigner to lead Sony since the company was founded in 1946 by Akio Morita, Masaru Ibuka, and Tamon Maeda.

Born in Wales in 1942, Stringer has a master's degree in modern history from Oxford University. He became a U.S. citizen in 1985. After almost 20 years at CBS/Broadcasting Group, he became chief executive of Tele-TV in 1995 and then joined Sony.

Ken Kutaragi, 54, will step down as Sony's executive vice president, while keeping his post as the head of the video games division.

Profit Slump

Operating profit at Sony's consumer electronics division, which accounted for about 65 percent of the 7.5 trillion yen revenue in fiscal 2003, fell 23 percent in the quarter ended December as prices of digital cameras, PCs and other gadgets dropped.

The price decline may hinder Sony's pledge to boost operating profit margin to 10 percent at all divisions excluding its financial business by the year ending March 2007, through cost-cut plans that include cutting 20,000 jobs and consolidating overseas businesses.

``We won't achieve it this year,'' Stringer said at a news conference this afternoon. ``It's worth leaving out there to fight for and improve management. We have to make Sony executives hungry.''

Samsung Electronics posted about $11 billion of net income last year, more than Sony has earned in the past 10 years.

Sony had operating profit margin of 1.32 percent for the business year ending March 2004, compared with 2.6 percent at Matsu****a Electric. Samsung Electronics had a margin of 21 percent for the year ended December 2004.

Sony has about 953.2 billion yen of debt outstanding until 2011, according to Bloomberg data.

``At the end of the day, Sony still needs money,'' said Fumi Kheng, who helps manages the equivalent of $1.3 billion in assets, including Sony shares, at Pioneer Investment Management Ltd. in Singapore. ``Sony needs someone who's a gaijin, a foreigner, who's willing to make big changes.''



To contact the reporter on this story:
Daisuke Takato in Tokyo at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Teo Chian Wei at [email protected].
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