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Kaz Hirai steps down as Sony CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida named as replacement

Kaz Hirai steps down as Sony CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida named as replacement

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Sam Byford / The Verge

Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai’s six-year reign as Sony CEO will come to an end this March, as CFO Kenichiro Yoshida is taking over at the start of the next financial year. Yoshida is credited with helping turn around Sony’s finances throughout much of Hirai’s tenure, which began with a much-vaunted “One Sony” streamlining initiative. Hirai will move into the role of chairman, while Yoshida’s CFO role will go to mobile head and chief strategy officer Hiroki Totoki. 

Hirai hired Yoshida as Sony’s strategy chief early on, and the pair worked together to restructure the fractured corporation, steering it into the black after several years of losses. The company has cut back or sold off businesses like the VAIO PC division, focusing on areas of strength like PlayStation and components.

“Mr. Yoshida combines a deeply strategic mindset with a relentless determination to achieve defined targets, and the ability to take a global viewpoint,” Hirai says in a statement. “I believe he possesses the breadth of experience and perspective, as well as the unwavering leadership qualities required to manage Sony’s diverse array of businesses, and as such is the ideal person to drive the company forward into the future. As Chairman, I will of course offer my full support to Mr. Yoshida and the new management team, and do all I can to facilitate a smooth transition and ensure their future success.”

“Together with the outstanding talent we have across the Sony Group, I will aim to build on the business foundations established by Mr. Hirai, and execute further reform measures that enhance our competitiveness as a global enterprise, and enable us to realize long-term profit growth,” Yoshida says. “My first priority will be to finalize our next mid-range corporate plan starting in April, together with our immediate business plan for the fiscal year 2018, and then move ahead swiftly with implementation. This is a hugely exciting time at Sony as we look to our future, and together with my management team I intend to determine the best path for us to move forward, and devote my full effort to creating a better Sony that captures the imagination of our many stakeholders around the world.”

Sony may give further details on its future strategy when it reports its third-quarter earnings later today. The company is forecasting a record operating profit of 630 billion yen for the year ending March 31st, suggesting Hirai will be going out on a high.