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Yahoo Japan to Speed Up Development of Smartphone Apps

Yahoo Japan incoming CEO Manabu Miyasaka
Manabu Miyasaka, incoming president and chief executive officer of Yahoo Japan Corp. Photographer: Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg

Yahoo Japan Corp., operator of the country’s most-visited web portal, said it plans to accelerate development of mobile-device applications as the number of smartphone users rises.

“The one thing I’ve decided is to make smartphones our priority,” Manabu Miyasaka, 44, who will become chief executive officer of Yahoo Japan on April 1, said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. “That market will grow much faster than the personal-computer market.”

Miyasaka is replacing Masahiro Inoue, 55, as part of a management overhaul that includes creating a new position to oversee smartphone services. Shin Murakami, 35, will be chief mobile officer from April, while Toshiki Ohya, 42, has been named chief financial officer in a shake-up that will reduce the average age of Yahoo Japan’s top executives to 41 from 50, according to the company.

Miyasaka called back Murakami, who left the company in April 2011, to tap his expertise in mobile phones, the incoming CEO said. Murakami will work across divisions as many customers use multiple devices, including desktop PCs, tablet PCs and smartphones, to surf the Internet, Miyasaka said.

Miyasaka, who joined Yahoo Japan in 1997, is currently a senior vice president in charge of the company’s consumer business.

Yahoo Inc.’s Stake

Yahoo! Inc. is in talks to dispose of its stake of about 34.7 percent in Yahoo Japan, a joint venture with Softbank Corp., the companies have said. Softbank, Japan’s third-largest mobile-phone operator, has a combined 42 percent stake in the venture, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“There’s no change in the situation, as talks have been going on,” Miyasaka said.

Yahoo Japan fell 1.6 percent to 26,780 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, compared with a 0.3 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average. The shares have gained 8 percent this year.

Yahoo Japan profit has increased every fiscal year since it was founded in 1996, according to the company. Net income will probably rise as much as 7.6 percent in the year ending March 31 from a year earlier to 99.2 billion yen ($1.2 billion), the company forecast on Jan. 25. Sales may increase as much as 4.2 percent to 304.6 billion yen, Yahoo Japan said.

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