Sony's board taps British exec for CEO

Board of directors unanimously selects a Brit as the company's new CEO and chairman amid a management shake-up.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
2 min read
Howard Stringer
Howard Stringer
CEO, Sony
Howard Stringer
Howard Stringer
CEO, Sony

The company announced the appointment of Howard Stringer to lead Sony during an emergency meeting called by Nobuyuki Idei, whom Stringer will succeed. The changes are effective immediately but final approval will come following a shareholder vote on June 22.

Stringer becomes the first foreign-born leader of the Japanese company whose corporate roster consists mostly of Japanese executives.

"We have clearly demonstrated in our U.S. operations that we can achieve significant cross-company efficiencies, and at the same time deliver both extraordinary quality and record returns," Stringer said in a statement. "I believe the entire global organization is hungry to make this same transition, and all of us in senior management are committed to achieving that goal."

The change comes as Sony and other electronics makers struggle through a particularly tough time in the industry. Competition from manufacturers in China and an increasingly competitive market are leading to falling margins and consolidation.

Idei and Sony President Kunitake Ando are resigning their board seats. Idei will stay on as chief corporate adviser and Ando will serve as an advisor.

Executive Deputy President Ryoji Chubachi will take over as president from Ando and have global responsibility for the electronics division.

Chief financial officer Katsumi Ihara will be joining the Stringer and Chubachi as candidates to join the board of directors.

In addition to Idei and Ando, other board members resigning their seats are Teruo Masaki, Teruhisa Tokunaka, Goran Lindhal and Akihisa Ohnishi.

Ken Kutaragi--the executive credited with the success of Sony's gaming console the PlayStation--is also stepping down from the board but will remain with the company. Kutaragi will give up his responsibilities in the home electronics and semicondutor businesses and focus on gaming.

Kutaragi and Ando were considered among the favorites to take over for Idei. Stringer's election is something of a surprise since historically Sony has looked to Japanese-born leaders.

Stringer's election is expected to lead to more cooperation between Sony's disparate electronics and entertainment divisions. The company has been trying to take advantage of its position as one of the leading companies in the entertainment and electronics industries--getting its music and movies onto its gadgets. However, that strategy has been slow in developing.

Stringer is expected to push that strategy harder.

In a recent interview with News.com, Stringer was adamant that change had to occur faster.

"Without content, most devices are junk," Stringer said in late January.