Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. has appointed female journalist Tomoyo Nonaka as new chairman.
Nonaka, 50, has been a longtime TV newscaster and increasingly established a relationship with Japanese industry and the government's projects. She became an outside director of Sanyo in June 2002, while concurrently acting as an outside director for Asahi Breweries, Ltd. She was also an outside director of Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. until last March.
The appointment of Nonaka to CEO shocked the industry because she was completely a dark horse and her capability in managing an electronics company is unknown.
Such concerns did not appear to deter Sanyo's management. Satoshi Iue, current Sanyo chairman who is the son of the founder and the father of the new president, asked Nonaka to take the CEO position early this year.
"Nonaka is a good coordinator who can pull together and lead people and organizations about various matters, and is well informed about government's policies. She is well learned about where Sanyo is not strong. I hope she will lead Sanyo with such ability," said Iue.
Unlike Nonaka, the appointment of Iue, 42, was expected because he is a member of the founder's family. Iue is currently executive vice president.
For Sanyo's fiscal 2003 year ended March 2004, Sanyo reported $23.8 billion in sales with net earnings of $27 million. The company expected both sales and net income to increase for fiscal 2004 ended March 2005.
However, the Chuetsu earthquake that struck Sanyo's semiconductor fab in Niigata Oct. 23 of last year sent the company into the red, causing $837 million in damage. The Chuetsu fab is Sanyo's largest.
The fab resumed full operation March 23, but Sanyo has struggled to recover financially. Last month, Sanyo revised its fiscal 2004 year guidance to project an operating profit of $394 million, less than half of the $904 million in fiscal 2003, though sales are expected to be relatively flat with fiscal 2003.
The poor financial results apparently triggered the management reshuffle. The new management team will be in effect after approval of Sanyo's shareholders in June.