Kazuo Hirai to step down as Sony Corp CEO

Kazuo Hirai will be stepping down from the post of CEO of Sony Corp making way for company’s chief financial officer Kenichiro Yoshida, the company announced.

Yoshida has been credited with leading many of the changes that have helped the company recover from years of losses in consumer electronics.

Hirai implemented policies that led to thousands of job cuts as well as withdrawal from or cut back in areas such as PCs and TVs. Hirai did manage to regain the market’s confidence with a no-nonsense restructuring plan as well as strong sales of image sensors, used in smartphones; however, Yoshida is believed to be a key proponent of those changes, some of which were controversial including a decision to sell the Vaio personal computer division and spinning off the TV business.

The announcement comes as Sony looks set to book record annual operating profit in the year through March.

“I would like to take over the management foundation that was built under Hirai`s leadership, and to improve Sony`s competitiveness as a global company,” Yoshida said in a statement.

Analysts expects Sony to post an operating profit of around 681 billion yen in the current business year, the highest ever in the company’s 72-year-old history.

It is due to announce its third quarter results at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Friday.

Yoshida’s appointment is effective April 1. Hirai will become chairman.