Kazuo Hirai to Step Down as Sony CEO
In a move that came as a surprise to his board, Kazuo Hirai has decided to step down as CEO of Sony effective April 1. In a statement, the company explained that, in a proposal made to the board, Hirai presented a management structure that would make Kenishiro Yoshida, currently the CFO of Sony, the new CEO. Hirai will move into a chairman role. After deliberation, the board and Nominating Committee approved the proposal.
Hirai, who has been at the helm of the consumer electronics giant since 2012, helped Sony navigate probably its most difficult era as a company, and completed one of the most impressive turnarounds. According to recent net profit projections, Sony’s FY 2018 is on pace to hit a record high under Hirai’s leadership. Yoshida, who was hired by Hirai early on as his strategy chief and has worked hand and hand with his CEO to restructure and refocus the electronics manufacturer. After a few years of negative revenue returns, Sony is on a three-year net profit streak, including the projected record-setting year this year.
"The Board is grateful to Kazuo Hirai for his outstanding contribution over the past six years, taking leadership of the company amidst an extremely challenging business environment in 2012, and making great progress in revitalizing Sony’s business,” Osamu Nagayama, Chairman of the Board and Chair of the Nominating Committee for Sony, said in the statement. “Given these achievements, we were initially surprised by his proposal to step down from the role of President and CEO, but over time and following extensive further discussions we ultimately reached a decision to respect his wishes. The Nominating Committee had been regularly discussing potential management succession plans, and after receiving the proposal from Mr. Hirai, we engaged in renewed discussion, leading to the conclusion that Mr. Yoshida would be the ideal candidate to succeed Mr. Hirai as Sony President and CEO, and lead Sony into the future.”