New Sony chief promises to rescue loss-making TV unit

Sony's incoming president Kazuo Hirai put himself in charge of the company's unprofitable television unit, staking his reputation on ending eight years of losses.

Sony abolished two divisions at its main electronics unit and promoted three executives, the company said. The changes, effective from April 1, when Hirai will take over as chief executive officer of the Tokyo-based company, are aimed at speeding up management decisions, said Satsuki Shinnaka, a spokeswoman for Japan's biggest electronics exporter.

Hirai, 51, who has been credited for making the PlayStation game business profitable, is bringing in a new team as he seeks to turn around the television business that is forecast to lose money for an eighth consecutive year.

Hirai has vowed "painful" steps to cut costs and turn around a company facing a fourth straight annual loss amid consumers increasingly flocking to devices from Samsung Electronics and Apple for movies and games.

"You can't just expect any hero to show up and resolve Sony's problems," said Shiro Mikoshiba, an analyst at Nomura Holdings in Tokyo.

The maker of Bravia televisions and Vaio computers is abolishing the consumer products and services group, which handled consumer electronics, and the professional device and solutions group, which handled business-use products and components.

Hirai edged out three other candidates with engineering backgrounds for the top job at the company that was a trendsetter in the 1980s. Hirai will succeed Howard Stringer, 70, who will become chairman of the board after a shareholders meeting in June.

- Bloomberg

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