Sony Hands More Power to Howard Stringer

Shareholders approve management reshuffle in hopes of stemming the company’s losses.

Last Updated: April 12, 2010 @ 1:23 PM

Sony shareholders on Friday gave final approval to a new management structure that puts more power in the hands of Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Stringer, expanding his role to include President, as well.

In all, 15 directors were approved in the reshuffle that was first announced in Feburary, but needed shareholder approval.

Stringer, 67, the first foreigner to head the electronics and entertainment giant, replaces Ryoji Chubachi, who resigned in April, as president. Chubachi will remain a director and become vice chairman overseeing product quality and environment policies.

Masao Morita, the son of late Sony co-founder Akio Morita, will head Sony Music Entertainment Japan as chairman. He’ll be charged with helping Sony reclaim its title as the label with largest market share in the country’s music industry. The company has its first annual net loss in 14 years due to its electronics business.

In March, Sony reported a $1.03 billion net loss for the fiscal year — hit hard by the continued faltering economy and a strong yen. Overall sales fell 12.9 percent to $81.2 billion for the company’s fiscal year, which ended March 31.

The electronics segment saw an operating loss of $1.76 billion on sales of $57.6 billion — a steep 17 percent drop. The games segment also stumbled badly, recording a loss of $614.5 million, while sales fell 18 percent.

Sony blamed the yen’s appreciation against the dollar and euro and weak sales of PlayStation 2.

"Consumers want products that are networked, multi-functional and service-enhanced utilizing open technologies, and user experiences that are rich, shared and, increasingly, green," said Stringer in a statement earlier this year. "This reorganization is designed to transform Sony into a more innovative, integrated and agile global company with its next generation of leadership firmly in place."

Stringer will lead a team to try to unite Sony’s large electronic, digital and film businesses.

The electronics business is now in two separate divisions. The Networked Products and Services Group will hold Sony’s Playstaion games console, Vaio laptops, Walkman audio products and new mobile and software products. That division is now run by Kaz Hirai, who formerly headed the PlayStation business at subsidiary Sony Computer Entertainment.

The second division — led by Hiroshi Yoshioka, who led Sony’s TV business — is the New Consumer Products Group, which includes Sony’s Bravia TV, digital imaging, home audio and video businesses.