Sony Spins Out Semiconductors as Hirai Pushes Accountability

  • Battery, storage businesses will remain separate companies
  • Sony's devices business yields about a 10th of its sales

Sony Corp. will spin out its semiconductor business into a new unit as President Kazuo Hirai revamps the devices business to focus on hit products such as image sensors and considers selling underperforming assets.

Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp. will begin operating in April and be led by Terushi Shimizu, currently second-in-charge for the devices segment. Two other units in that segment, Sony Energy Devices Corp. and Sony Storage Media & Devices Corp., will continue as separate companies, the Tokyo-based parent said Tuesday.

The new structure reflects Hirai’s push to make managers more accountable and speed decision-making as the company targets its highest profit in two decades. The move may also make it easier to divest weaker units, as the company did with its Vaio PCs last year.

Sony, whose video game, movie and music businesses already operate independently of the parent, this month spun off its iconic Walkman brand into a separate company along with headphones, home theater equipment and Blu-ray players.

“The aim of these measures is to ensure clearly attributable accountability and responsibility from the perspective of shareholders,” the company said in a statement.

Sony’s devices arm accounted for about 11 percent of the Japanese company’s revenue in the quarter ending June. The business more than doubled profit to 30.3 billion yen ($250 million) after sales climbed because of demand from smartphone makers.

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