Saturday, March 9, 2013
DJ: Sony Chairman Stringer To Retire In June
TOKYO--Howard Stringer, Sony Corp.'s (6758) former chief executive and current board chairman, plans to retire from the company in June, marking the end of a tumultuous tenure for the British-born executive at the helm of one of Japan's most iconic companies.
In a speech to the Japan Society in New York, Mr. Stringer said he plans to retire from Sony at the end of his tenure to "move forward with new opportunities I've been presented with lately." He became Sony's CEO in 2005 before stepping down last year and remained the company's non-executive chairman.
The 71-year-old Mr. Stringer, a former head of CBS and an ex-journalist, didn't specify what he planned to do aside from accepting directorships board in areas of interest to him in medicine and education.
Mr. Stringer will leave behind a checkered legacy as the first non-Japanese CEO of Sony. He strengthened Sony's entertainment divisions, once a constant source of frustration for the company's Japanese executives, to become steady profit contributors. Ultimately, he will be remembered for the lack of success he had in fixing its mainstay electronics business.
During Mr. Stringer's time, Sony ceded its leadership in televisions to South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. and failed to slow Apple Inc.'s resurgence that started with the iPod, a digital music player in the mold of Sony's most famous product, the Walkman.
Sony's inability to recapture its magic came to symbolize the problems of Japan's entire electronics industry, whose manufacturing prowess was brought to its knees by the disadvantages of a strong yen and a transition to digital technology.
In a written statement, Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said Mr. Stringer told him earlier this year of his plans to step down as board chairman.
"Howard's unwavering dedication and leadership throughout his tenure as CEO enabled us to form the foundation to overcome huge challenges and the path to future growth," said Mr. Hirai.
Mr. Stringer pushed Sony to strengthen its software development and break the company from its bureaucratic and divided structure--often clashing with a network of current and former Japanese executives who thought Mr. Stringer was destroying Sony's unique culture.
"For all the ups and downs, challenges and rewards during this time, I remain grateful for my association with such a great and legendary company," said Mr. Stringer. "I can't say I'll miss the 14 hour flights 16 or so times a year."