Bloomberg News

Sony Names Lynton as Chief Executive of U.S. Media Divisions

March 29, 2012

Sony Corp. (6758) named studio Chairman Michael Lynton as chief executive officer of the U.S. entertainment business, putting film, television and music under a single person to help unify the company’s content.

Kazuo Hirai, who on April 1 replaces Howard Stringer as Sony CEO, is consolidating oversight of units that produced more than 30 percent of Sony’s profit last year. Hirai, 51, has put himself in charge of the company’s unprofitable TV unit, staking his tenure on ending eight years of losses.

Lynton, 52, who will report to Hirai, will remain in Los Angeles and continue to lead Sony Pictures Entertainment (CPEI:US) with co-chairman Amy Pascal. In his role, beginning June 27, Lynton will oversee Sony Music Entertainment (7930), Sony/ATV Music Publishing as well as Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today.

“He understands the vital importance of fulfilling Sony’s unique promise of linking content and devices, and has been instrumental in our efforts to make it happen,” Stringer said in the statement.

Sony also named Nicole Seligman, currently general counsel and executive vice president, as president of Sony Corp. of America, gaining oversight among other duties of legal affairs and communications. Seligman will be in New York and travel frequently to Tokyo, a person with knowledge of the appointments said last week.

Rob Wiesenthal, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Sony Corp. of America, was named to the newly created role of president of Sony/ATV’s international operations, assisting with the planned purchase of EMI’s music publishing, the company said in a separate statement.

‘Painful’ Steps

Hirai, who’s been credited with making the PlayStation game business profitable, has vowed “painful” steps to cut costs and turn around a company facing a fourth straight annual loss amid consumers’ flocking to devices from Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) for movies and games.

Soon after he was named for the top job last month, Hirai reaffirmed his commitment to TVs. The world’s No. 3 maker has a sales target of 20 million sets for the year ending March 31, though the business may lose between 220 billion yen ($2.7 billion) and 230 billion yen.

Televisions are important as an output device, Hirai said last month. “Withdrawing or shrinking would cut a link for customers to experience” Sony content, he said.

Sony’s American depositary receipts declined 1 percent to $20.93 at the close in New York today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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