Sony Chairman Kazuo Hirai, the architect of a turnaround at the Japanese electronics giant, will retire in June after a tenure more than three decades.
Hirai will continue to advise the company after his retirement, Sony said in a statement. Shuzo Sumi of Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. was nominated to become chairman of the board.
Hirai, who took over as CEO from Howard Stringer in 2012, turned the company’s fortunes around by paring back and refocusing its operations. With Yoshida’s support, Hirai sold off the Vaio personal computer business, reshaped the television set unit and pulled the mobile business back from a destructive fight for market share. He also invested heavily in the PlayStation games business and image sensors used in smartphones, now major drivers of the business. Profits hit a record last year as he ceded the CEO role.
Closing smartphone plant in China
In related news, Sony is closing its Beijing smartphone plant, as the Japanese electronics giant cuts costs in an attempt to make the money-losing handset business profitable from next year.
The business is one of Sony’s few weak spots and is facing a loss of 95 billion yen ($863 million) for the financial year ending this month.
Production will stop by the end of the month.
Sony will only make smartphones at a plant in Thailand but will continue to outsource some production to contract manufacturers.
Sony has said it has no intention to sell in smartphone business, as it expects smartphones to be a central part of fifth-generation wireless networks, where cars and various devices can be connected. It aims to make the business profitable in the financial year beginning April 2020.