Sony CEO Steps Down; More Challenges for Gibson

Written by Bill Leebens

Sony Corporation laid out major management shifts in a recent press-release.  CEO Kaz Hirai, widely credited with the company’s return to profitability, began his career at CBS/Sony Music, worked through the video game division, and in 2012 replaced Howard Stringer, Sony’s first non-Japanese CEO.  In spite of a few successes such as the incredibly popular series of Spider-Man films, Stringer’s tenure as CEO was problematic and saw major losses for the company. Hirai’s tenure as CEO saw the company consolidating divisions and updating vital video game products; after a series of tough years, 2017 saw the company forecast and produce its highest profits in two decades.

This month Hirai stepped down as CEO, but was named “Director Chairman”—essentially, Chairman of the Board of Directors. The company’s CFO, Kenichiro Yoshida, was named CEO to replace Hirai. Hirai attended the American School in Japan and later attended school in Canada, and was viewed as more youthful and in touch with Western culture than his predecessors—ironic, as Stringer was British. Hirai’s preppy style and often-wry Tweets marked a major difference in style from his buttoned-down predecessors.

The appointment of the CFO Yoshida as the new CEO is viewed as an attempt  to extend the company’s streak of profitable quarters by imposing financial rigor on an organization that has at times been…impulsive. Yoshida is credited with implementing corporate restructuring that contributed to the company’s turnaround.

It will be interesting to see how Sony progresses.

Watching the story of Gibson Brands’ woes unfold has become more reality television than reality.

At the same time that music magazine Paste heads an article, “Gibson Guitars is About to Go Belly Up”,  Nashville media quote a credit officer at Moody’s as saying, “Gibson is running out of time—rapidly”, and we reported the departure of the company’s CFO—Gibson Brands CEO Henry Juszkiewicz issued an “all is well” statement regarding the half-billion dollars in notes rapidly reaching maturity.

Nothin’ to see here. Keep moving. Except, this just in.…according to a report in Bloomberg, bondholders who hold more than two-thirds of Gibson’s debt are pushing to take over, and oust Juszkiewicz.

Film at 11.

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