Blog Post

Sony Consolidates Control of Divisions; Stringer Takes On President Title Too

Sony (NYSE: SNE), battered by losses across its major divisions, is now taking steps to consolidate power under current Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer: Stringer is also taking over as the president of the Japanese giant, and thus will effectively control Sony’s core electronics business. Current Sony president Ryoji Chubachi will become vice chairman. These changes will start April 1.

As part of the reorg, Sony also plans to set up two new business groups, one that covers PlayStation (gaming) and Vaio PCs (computers), and the other handling Bravia flat TVs, Cyber-shot digital cameras and Handycam camcorders, the company said.

— The “Networked Products & Services Group”, which includes gaming and PC, will be headed by Kazuo Hirai, head of Sony’s video game business.
— The new “Consumer Products Group” will include TV, digital camera and camcorder operations, and will be led by Hiroshi Yoshioka, who currently also oversees its TV business.

Stringer took over the company in 2005 as the first foreign executive to lead the Tokyo-based company, and has failed to restore the business to its former glory amid the faltering economy, a strong yen and continued waning demand for its products. These changes come a month after Sony warned that it would report its first full-year loss in 14 years, for the year ending March 31. Sony is cutting 16,000 jobs from the electronics operations and closing as many as six plants to save more than 100 billion yen in annual costs.

The exec changes signal Stringer’s frustration with the slow pace of change and of the streamlining of the electronics division, as LCD TV prices and sales continue to fall. “Working with his newly appointed electronics leadership team, [Stringer] will directly oversee the electronics business to enable faster implementation of his strategic direction,” Sony said in a statement. Remains to be seen how long Stringer has left to steady the ship after trying to get the various fractious divisions to work together for the last four years…

More details here.