Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Sojitz Corp., the smallest of Japan’s six major commodity suppliers, named finance chief Yoji Sato as president and chief executive officer to help weather the debt crisis in Europe.
“When you have to deal with the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the issue of a very strong yen, it’s best that the CFO, who is a specialist in the financial field, as well as having experience of two postings in the U.S., takes charge,” outgoing CEO Yutaka Kase told reporters in Tokyo today. Kase will become chairman, with the changes effective April 1.
Sato, a 39-year veteran of the trading house, takes over a company that has focused on rare earths investments and energy to boost earnings. The company’s shares have slumped 78 percent since reaching a peak on July 20, 2007.
Sato, 62, owns $152,529 worth of shares in Sojitz, which has climbed 11 percent since the start of the year on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Sojitz’s operating profit for the three months through December jumped 38 percent to 38.6 billion yen ($508 million), the company said today. The net loss for the period was 13.5 billion yen due to a change in Japan’s corporate tax rate, the company said.
Sojitz on Dec. 9 forecast an annual net loss of 12 billion yen for the year ending March 31 because of the tax change. Sales and operating profit wouldn’t be affected, the company said at the time.
--Editors: John Chacko, Alex Devine
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