Sony president to shareholders: Revival plan 'will work'

Summary:With the future of Sony resting on mobile devices, digital imaging, and gaming consoles, Sony president Kazuo Hirai said the company's turnaround efforts will save the troubled company.

Sony president Kazuo Hirai has gained shareholder approval as it attempts to steer the company back into profit. That was the easy part.

For the rest of the meeting, according to the Associated Press, Hirai was grilled by investors and even shouted at by hecklers.

More than 9,300 shareholders --- a record turnout --- gathered in a hotel to hear Hirai speak at the meeting.

At one point, one angry shareholder demanded why former president Howard Stringer --- whom Hirai replaced --- retained his chairman's position, despite the company's failure to adapt, and dwindling performance in the seven years he was in charge.

Stringer also took to the stage to effectively apologise for the record losses last year.

But Stringer dug in his heels deep and claimed the company's losses should be pinned on the 2011 tsunami, the Thai floods and the after-effects of the global financial crisis, effectively absolving himself from blame, reports Reuters.

Sony reported a $5.75 billion loss for 2011's financial year. The company said it would cut 10,000 jobs --- around 6 percent of its workforce --- while refocusing on three areas: mobile devices, digital imaging, and gaming consoles.

"We take the problem Sony's electronics business is facing very seriously, and we feel a sense of crisis," Hirai told shareholders during the 90-minute meeting.

Hirai also promised that the turnaround strategy he had laid out will save the trouble technology giant.

Its failure to foresee its competitor's next move left the company's once-profitable television business in crisis. Samsung's booming television unit hit Sony, which was unprepared for.

Sony has lost money in its television-making unit for eight straight years.

But Sony is adamant the unit will return to profit in the coming two years. Its new partnership with Panasonic on OLED televisions should prove fruitful --- bringing together the second and third largest television makers in Japan --- especially in the run-up to an expected Apple television set announcement in the coming months.

Sony's shares have lost about half their value over the past year. The company's market cap weighs in less than one-tenth of Samsung's.

Sony said it would return to profit for the financial year ending March 2013.

Image credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET.

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Topics: Banking, Hardware, Mobility

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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