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Sharp Appoints New President

Published: March 14, 2012 | 8:43 am
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TOKYO—Sharp Corp. said Wednesday its executive in charge of overseas operations will become president next month.

The leadership change comes as the Japanese electronics maker has become seriously mired in losses from its mainstay liquid crystal display panels, TV sets and solar panels.

Takashi Okuda, 58, will take the helm April 1, while current president, Mikio Katayama, 54, will become chairman without representative rights, Sharp said in a statement.

Japan’s biggest consumer-electronics companies are expecting massive losses for this fiscal year as their main businesses are hurt by the strong yen, lack of innovative new products and fierce competition from powerful Asian rivals such as South Korea’s Samsung Electronics . Seeking a way out, Japanese players are pinning their hopes for a recovery on new leaders.

Last month, Sharp projected a loss of ¥290 billion ($3.48 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, which would be the biggest annual loss in the company’s 100-year history. The company said losses from TVs and LCD panels used for TVs would result in a tax-related write-down.

Sony Corp. said last month that Kazuo Hirai, who currently oversees the company’s consumer-electronics business, will become chief executive to succeed Howard Stringer April 1. Sony forecasts a net loss of ¥220 billion this fiscal year, which would mark its fourth-straight yearly net loss.

In late February, Panasonic Corp. also appointed a new president to take office in June, after forecasting a ¥780 billion net loss for this fiscal year due in part to its unprofitable TV business.

Reports of the company’s new leadership prompted Sharp’s shares to pull out of a large fall in trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Wednesday. The company’s stock ended up 4.3% at ¥531 after being down by as much as 4.5% earlier in the session.

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