Outgoing Sony CEO sees little humor in iPod retirement gift

I hope Howard Stringer likes umeboshi, because he’ll no doubt be offered a lot more of it now that he’s been appointed CEO of Sony. In an emergency meeting called Sunday, Stringer, the Welsh-born chairman and chief executive of Sony’s American unit, was named successor to Nobuyuki Idei, Sony’s chairman and chief executive and the man who famously declined Apple’s offer to come aboard its iTunes Music Store.
Idei resigned along with his second-in-command, President Kunitake Ando, who will be succeeded by Executive Deputy President Ryoji Chubachi. Both,will stay on at Sony as advisers. While one need only look at Sony’s five-year chart to see just how desperately the company needed a jolt (Sony’s shares are trading at a little more than a quarter of where they were when they peaked in 2000), Stringer’s appointment does come as something of a shock. A gaijin leading a top Japanese company? And Stringer doesn’t even speak the language. Still, I suppose if anyone can turn Sony’s fortune’s around, it’s Stringer. After all, he has revived the company’s music and movie businesses in the United States, and that was no easy task. A decade ago, Sony recorded a humbling $3.2 billion write-down related to its movie business. During last year’s October-December quarter, that business recorded an operating profit of $178 million — 13 percent of Sony’s total. Clearly, Sony’s leadership has good reason to trust him. “Forgive the awful pun, but he has kind of oriented himself to his Japanese colleagues,” said Peter Peterson, chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group and a former board member at Sony who helped recruit Stringer to the company. “It’s a great achievement. They trust him. He’s a harmonizer.”

 
 

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