Sony Replaces Strategy Officer After Sales Forecast Cuts

Sony Corp. replaced its chief strategy officer a week after cutting forecasts and reporting a surprise loss that triggered a plunge in share price.

Kenichiro Yoshida will replace Tadashi Saito as chief strategy officer, according to a statement on the company’s website. Saito was appointed by President Kazuo Hirai in April 2012 to help lead a turnaround as the company lost $8 billion on its television business during the past nine years. He will lead the medical unit.

“The appointment of Yoshida aims to accelerate Sony’s reform and to strengthen our management in the mid-term,” said Mami Imada, a spokeswoman for Sony. “It’s not a demotion for Saito.”

Hirai is struggling to find the right strategy after Sony last week lowered sales forecasts for TVs, cameras and computers -- businesses that make up 22 percent of sales. Shares plunged 11 percent, paring $2.2 billion off the company’s market value, and Moody’s Investors Service warned the credit rating may be cut to junk.

Yoshida is currently President of So-net Corp., an Internet service provider controlled by Sony.

“Sony is trying to strengthen their online service and it seems quite natural to appoint someone who knows the network well,” Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo commented by phone.

Sony reported a 19.3 billion-yen ($196 million) loss in the period ended Sept. 30, intensifying the spotlight on Hirai’s plan to focus on games, mobile phones and imaging. An accelerating shift by consumers to smartphones and tablets from Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. crimped sales, while big-budget Hollywood disappointments drained the movie studio.