Sony turnaround architect Hirai to retire as chairman

FILE PHOTO: Kazuo Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Corporation, speaks during a news conference at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp on Thursday said chairman Kazuo Hirai, who helped engineer the electronics giant’s recent revival, will retire in June, bowing out as the Japanese company is on track for another record profit this year.

Hirai, together with his finance chief Kenichiro Yoshida, helped reinvent Sony as an entertainment company with stable revenue from music content and gaming, after battling years of losses from consumer electronics such as television sets.

Once a market leader in consumer electronics, the maker of the Walkman and Trinitron TV fell behind the likes of Apple in innovation after the release of the iPod in 2001 and then the iPhone in 2007. It then also lost out to more nimble Asian rivals in price competition.

Under Hirai, who succeeded Howard Stringer as CEO in 2012, Sony sold off its ailing personal computer division and streamlined its television and smartphone businesses.

Yoshida last year took over as chief executive. Hirai will continue to act as a senior adviser to the company, Sony said.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by David Dolan

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