Sony names Kazuo Hirai president; Stringer remains CEO--report

Kazuo Hirai, now head of the company's videogame group, will be Sony's next president, Nikkei reports. Howard Stringer remains chairman and CEO.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
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Hirai holding one of the company's PSP units at E3 2010.
Hirai holding one of the company's PSP units at E3 2010. James Martin/CNET

Sony veteran Kazuo Hirai will be the company's next president, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported.

Current CEO Howard Stringer will remain the chairman and CEO of the company, the report says. The executive shuffle, which CNET has not yet confirmed with Sony, is said to be finalized sometime this month, with Hirai taking the post in April.

Hirai became the chairman of Sony's Computer Entertainment group in June of last year, taking over the spot previously held by Andrew House. Prior to that--in March--he was named as president of Sony's entire consumer business.

Hirai has been viewed as an eventual successor to Stringer, with Stringer himself saying he was "the leading candidate," for the role during an interview last March. Hirai is one in a small group of executives picked by Stringer near the beginning of 2009 to help turn the company around. As part of that same move, Stringer had taken on the job as the company's president, replacing Ryoji Chubachi.

Hirai's promotion comes on the heels of a bumpy year for Sony. The company's PlayStation Network service became the target of what the company called a "very sophisticated" attack, which resulted in the theft of personal information of some 100 million users. The company also faced continuing problems in its TV business, which it split into three parts at the end of October. Adding to that was a loss in its fiscal first quarter, due to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Update at 2:30 p.m. PT: Bloomberg reports that Sony's board has not yet made a decision on promoting Hirai, as per a statement from a company spokesman.