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Pioneer Japan’s Ito, Matsumoto Resign

Pioneer Corporation, the Japanese parent of Pioneer Electronics in the United States, said its president Keneo Ito and chairman Kanya Matsumoto will resign, taking blame for an expected record net loss of 24 billion yen ($200 million) for the fiscal year ending in March 2006.

Besides making management changes to turn the company’s financials around, Pioneer on Dec. 8 will announce additional restructuring plans focused on its plasma display and DVD recorder businesses.

Both Ito and Matsumoto will leave their current positions to become advisers on Jan. 1, 2006, when the company’s current executive VP Tamihiko Sudo will become president and representative director. Sometime after that, a new chairman will be announced.

Ito has served as president since 1996. Matsumoto, son of Pioneer’s founder, has been with the company since 1955 and has been chairman since 1999. Matsumoto will also relinquish his representative director position to become a director.

A Pioneer U.S. spokesperson could not confirm reports that 1,000 people, or about 10 percent of the workforce, would be laid off and additional manufacturing plants closed. The restructuring would follow announcements earlier this year of 2,000 domestic layoffs and closure of some plants, which mainly made older analog products, the spokesperson said. Those measures, which are “still in progress,” also included the closure of a Mexican speaker factory and shutdown of two of six plasma production lines. The two lines, shut a few weeks ago, built plasma displays on an OEM basis for other brands and did not produce U.S. market Pioneer- and Elite brand plasmas, the spokesperson noted.

The spokesperson also could not confirm news reports that Pioneer will stop building mass-market DVD recorders and turn over production to OEM suppliers while continuing to build higher-end models.