Wales-born Howard Stringer, one of the few foreign bosses to head a major Japanese company, is to give up his role as Sony chief executive but remain as chairman, the electronics giant said today.
Stringer will be replaced by Kazuo Hirai, executive deputy president, on April 1, and will become chairman of the board of directors in June.
The 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran started working for Sony in 1997 as president of its US operational unit, Sony Corporation of America, and became Sony chief executive and chairman in June 2005, overseeing the entire businesses of Sony.
Stringer left the UK for America in 1965 after graduating from Oxford with a masters in modern history, becoming a US citizen. He spent 30 years at US broadcaster CBS, where he was a journalist, producer and senior executive.
Stringer has faced a series of significant challenges at Sony, including a loss-making television business, hacker attacks on its PlayStation network, Japan’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March, floods in Thailand hitting production and a strong yen that has eaten away at its profits.
Sony has racked up net losses of 399bn yen (€3.97bn) in the past three years and forecasts a 90bn yen (€897.5m) loss for the current fiscal year amid competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Stringer recommended Mr Hirai, who was head of the company’s consumer products business, as his successor as chief executive.
In a statement, Stringer said: “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.”
Mr Hirai spent most of his career at Sony in video games, movies, music and other software businesses, playing a major role in developing the PlayStation in the 1990s.
He is leading the team integrating the Ericsson mobile business, acquired in full for almost £1bn (€1.2bn) in October, to ensure Sony can deliver movies and music, across devices.