The two top executives responsible for Panasonic in the United States — Don Iwatani, chairman of Matsushita Electric Corp. of America, and Andy Takani, president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics — are more than likely going to be transferred back to their parent company in Japan.
The two executives have been credited with boosting Panasonic's market share and changing the company's image in the United States to a supplier of "cool and sexy products," as Takani usually puts it. Their efforts have attracted two target demographic groups to Panasonic — younger consumers and women — via its "Ideas For Life" ad campaign and more highly styled and cutting-edge digital products.
The decision was released by parent company Matsushita Electric Industrial in Japan last week when it released its annual financial report. (See p. 113.) As is the practice with many Japanese companies, Matsushita announced proposed management changes before they are enacted. The executive changes are expected but must be approved by the company's board when it meets in June.
Replacing Iwatani as chairman will be Yoshihiko Yamada, currently VP of Panasonic AVC Networks Company. Iwatani becomes executive officer, international affairs/director of global strategy research institute for the parent company.
Replacing Takani as president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics is Masaru Kono, currently VP, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America. Takani will become deputy director of Panasonic Corporate Marketing Division, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.