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An Idei Whose Time Has Come


In Business This Week: HEADLINER: NOBUYUKI IDEI

AN IDEI WHOSE TIME HAS COME

"It was a bolt from the blue," said Nobuyuki Idei. No kidding. When Idei was formally tapped to be president of Japan's giant Sony on Mar. 22, he leapfrogged no fewer than nine executives above him.

Current Sony President Norio Ohga had been expected to choose an heir this year as he nears retirement. But few expected Idei to win. Though a product-design whiz who masterminded such hits as Sony's original compact-disk player and the PlayStation game machine, the 57-year-old Idei knows little about music or films. "He couldn't take up the conductor's baton at a software company tomorrow," Ohga acknowledged at a briefing, "but I'm sure he can get the knack of it."

Indeed, the feisty and hard-charging Idei is known as a quick study. An economist by training, he spent nine years in Europe and is fluent in English. He says he knows how to talk to Sony America CEO Michael Schulhof and key execs at Sony's troubled Columbia Pictures. And he'll have help: Ohga stays on as CEO after Idei's appointment takes effect Apr. 1.By Larry Holyoke EDITED BY KEITH H. HAMMONDS


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