Sony has just confirmed Kazuo Hirai as its new CEO and President, validating rumors that have been swirling for a few weeks now. Outgoing CEO Howard Stringer, meanwhile, has been appointed Chairman of Sony's Board of Directors. The Hirai era officially begins April 1st, while Stringer will assume his new role sometime in June (until then, he'll remain executive chairman). Today's announcement, coming a day before Sony's earnings call, brings an end to more than a year's worth of speculation, though Hirai's selection hardly comes as a surprise, considering his recent string of promotions. In April, he was named Executive Deputy President; five months later, he was promoted to Sony Computer Entertainment Chairman. According to Stringer, in fact, Sony has been grooming Hirai since as early as 2009, when the Board began designing its succession plans. Kaz, he says, stood out from the crowd:

Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature. I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead. I look forward to helping Kaz in every way I can so that succession leads inevitably to success. It was my honor to recommend him to the Board for the positions of President and CEO, because he is ready to lead, and the time to make this change is now.

Kaz, for his part, acknowledges that Sony is going through some "challenging" times at this juncture, but credits Stringer with steadying the ship, and seems clear-minded about the future. "The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and game; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains," the 51-year-old PSN architect explained. "The foundations are now firmly in place for the new management team and me to fully leverage Sony's diverse electronics product portfolio, in conjunction with our rich entertainment assets and growing array of networked services, to engage with our customers around the world in new and exciting ways."

Click past the break for Sony's full press release.
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Sony names Kazuo Hirai as President and CEO; Sir Howard Stringer to become Chairman of the Board of Directors

TOKYO, Japan – Sony Corporation ("Sony") today announced that Kazuo Hirai has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2012. Sir Howard Stringer, currently Chairman, CEO and President, will become Chairman of the Board of Directors in June, 2012. Mr. Stringer recommended to the Sony Board of Directors that Mr. Hirai, currently Executive Deputy President, be his successor as President and CEO. Mr. Stringer will continue as Chairman of Sony Corporation until his ascension to the Board Chairmanship, which will become effective upon Board approval following the annual meeting of shareholders in June, when the current Chairman, Yotaro Kobayashi, will retire. Mr. Hirai is also expected to be appointed to the Board at the June shareholders meeting.

Comment from Sir Howard Stringer
"Three years ago, I started to work with the Board on succession plans, and in February, 2009 we named a new generation of leaders to be my management team. Among them was Kaz Hirai, who had distinguished himself through his work in the PlayStation ® and networked entertainment businesses. Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature. I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead. I look forward to helping Kaz in every way I can so that succession leads inevitably to success. It was my honor to recommend him to the Board for the positions of President and CEO, because he is ready to lead, and the time to make this change is now."

Comment from Kazuo Hirai

"As challenging as times are for Sony now, were it not for the strong leadership of Sir Howard Stringer these past seven years, we would have been in a much more difficult position. I am grateful to Sir Howard and to the Board for their confidence in me, and I look forward to working with everyone at Sony more closely than ever before to build a strong future for our customers, shareholders, partners and employees. The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and game; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains. The foundations are now firmly in place for the new management team and me to fully leverage Sony's diverse electronics product portfolio, in conjunction with our rich entertainment assets and growing array of networked services, to engage with our customers around the world in
new and exciting ways."

Comment from Yotaro Kobayashi, Chairman of the Board

"The Board is grateful to Sir Howard Stringer for all he has done to help Sony travel such a long and vital way down the road from an analogue to a digital company. He has clearly recognized the importance of connecting our tremendous products with networks and content so that our devices come fully alive in the hands of consumers. We agree with Sir Howard that Kazuo Hirai is the right man at the right time to lead Sony. He has a unique capacity to inspire people, to build teams, to make the tough decisions, and to think with clarity and foresight about the challenges we face and how to surmount them. We are also pleased that Sir Howard has accepted our request to remain with Sony after June as Chairman of the Board of Directors. His leadership and experience will be
of immeasurable assistance to us all."

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