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Sony Mobile Communications Names Kunimasa Suzuki President And CEO

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4/4/2012 9:09 AM ET

Sony Mobile Communications, a unit of Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. (SNE: Quote), said Wednesday that it has appointed Kunimasa Suzuki as President and CEO. He succeeds Bert Nordberg, who will step down from the leadership of the company and become chairman of the board of directors.

Suzuki, currently corporate executive officer and executive vice president, will assume the additional responsibility as president and CEO of Sony Mobile, effective May 16, 2012. He will oversee planning and design of all Sony's consumer products and services, and will be based in Lund, Sweden and Tokyo, Japan.

Suzuki's responsibility includes overseeing the mobile business that Sony has identified as one of its core electronics business areas, including smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

Sony Mobile has been shifting its focus from traditional mobile handsets to smartphones as it tries to enhance its presence in the consumer electronics industry and compete better against Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNLF.PK).

The company, formerly known as Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony in February. Sony and Sweden-based LM Ericsson Telephone Co. (ERIC) announced in October 2011 that they would dissolve their joint venture, and that Sony would buy shares held by Ericsson for 1.05 billion euros.

Commenting on Suzuki's appointment, Kazuo Hirai, President and CEO of Sony Corp. said, "Kuni has a vast experience in product planning and management in the information technology and mobile product business, as well as experience of cultivating business in emerging markets."

Hirai added, "He is a strong leader and the right person to oversee Sony Mobile Communications as we establish a new business structure as 'One Sony' intended to reinforce and accelerate our overall business management."

Suzuki noted that Sony has identified digital imaging, game and mobile as the three core pillars of its electronics business, and smartphones are a cornerstone of this strategy.

Sony Mobile said that Yoshihisa Ishida will continue to serve as deputy CEO, while Kristian Tear will continue to serve as executive vice president of sales and marketing.

In its final quarter as joint venture company, Sony Ericsson Mobile reported a loss for the fourth quarter in mid-January. The loss reflected fewer feature phone shipments amid intense competition, price erosion and restructuring charges.

However, the mobile phone maker said it sees strong growth in the smartphone market in 2012. The company expects the Xperia portfolio, including the new Xperia NXT series, to serve as a cornerstone of its smartphone lineup in 2012.

At parent company Sony Corp., Kazuo Hirai assumed the post of president and CEO on April 1, succeeding Sir Howard Stringer.

Stringer will continue as the company's chairman until June when he would be appointed as chairman of the board of directors, following the retirement of current chairman Yotaro Kobayashi. Welsh-born Stringer, who was with CBS Television Network in the U.S. earlier, was named Sony's CEO in 2005.

SNE closed Tuesday's trading at $20.50. In Wednesday's pre-market, the stock is down $0.20 or 0.98 percent to $20.30.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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