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Sony Computer Makes Exec Changes At Top

Tokyo – Sony Computer
Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced a shift in top management today, as chairman
Akiro Sato will retire and current president and group CEO Kazuo Hirai will
succeed him as chairman.

Sato’s retirement will
take effective on Aug 31. Ken Kutaragi, honorary chairman of SCEI, also
retired, effective yesterday.

Andrew House,
president/CEO/co-COO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), was promoted
to fill the position of president/group CEO of SCEI, effective Sept. 1.

New chairman Hirai’s
full title will be representative corporate executive officer and executive
deputy president, Sony Corporation, and president of the consumer products and
services group (CPSG).

Sony said Hirai “will
accelerate the implementation of a faster, stronger and integrated strategy to
create new user experience and generate added value by uniting hardware,
content and network, both for the home and on the go, while further
accelerating the development of the PlayStation business in close collaboration
with House.”

SCEI deputy president
Kunimasa Suzuki will remain in his current position.

New SCEI president House
joined Sony in 1990, beginning in corporate communications, and moved on to the
marketing and communications division which launched the original PlayStation
game console. He was promoted to marketing VP of Sony Computer Entertainment
America (SCEA), where he led efforts to establish the North American market for
the PlayStation as well as formulating and executing the market strategies
which led to the successful launch of the PlayStation2 and PSP businesses, Sony
said in a statement.

House was appointed
chief marketing officer of Sony Corp. in 2005, with global responsibility for
corporate marketing across all businesses, with primary emphasis in building brand
value. During his tenure, House led the effort to establish Sony’s new group
brand message, “make.believe.”

In May 2009, House took
over SCEE, managing the PlayStation business across nearly 100 countries in the
European/PAL territories, including the company’s PlayStation2, PSP,
PlayStation3 platforms, and PlayStation Network.

Sony said House’s main
focus will be on reinforcing and further accelerating its PlayStation business,
including heading up the launch of the next-generation PlayStation Vita, which
is rumored to be Nov. 4, in time for the holiday selling season. Sony has not
confirmed that date.

In House’s absence, Jim
Ryan, executive VP and co-COO of SCEE, will assume the role of SCEE president/CEO
on Sept. 1.

The retiring Sato joined
SCEI in 1993 as one of the founding members, and eventually rose to deputy
president/COO. In November 2005, he stepped down from operating
responsibilities, and after resuming his executive role as vice chairman in
December 2006, and as chairman from July 2009, “he worked tirelessly to
help guide the entire SCE group operation,” Sony said.

Hirai said in a
statement: “In fiscal 2010, we achieved profitability for the first time in
five years as a result of group-wide united efforts, including continuous cost
reduction for PS3 in which I first took the initiative after assuming president
of SCEI in December 2006. We are facing new challenges this year, such as the
successful launch of PlayStation Vita and further growth of PS3 platform as
well as expansion of nongaming business. I’m confident that the skills and
expertise [House] has gained over two decades working for Sony and SCE Group
will contribute enormously in leading the PlayStation business and to bring new
initiatives in managing the business in the networked era.

“SCE has benefited
tremendously from Sato-san in establishing the PlayStation brand as well as in
expanding its businesses worldwide,” Hirai continued. “I would like to express my
sincere gratitude to Sato-san for the countless contributions he has made to the
PlayStation business and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

“It has been a wonderful
experience with PlayStation since the company’s founding in 1993,” said Sato.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the great support from
third-party game developers and publishers and particularly to the wonderful
creators all over the world. Without the great content from a wide spectrum of genres
made by third-party game developers and publishers, as well as SCE Worldwide Studios,
PlayStation would not be where it is now.”

In other company news,
first reported by Bloomberg, the company’s annual report, released today,
disclosed that Sony Corp. is being investigated by the U.S. Justice
Department’s antitrust division, as part of a wider investigation into
competition and possible price-fixing in the rechargeable lithium-ion battery

The Tokyo-based
company’s U.S. subsidiary, Sony Electronics, received the request for
information on May 3, a Sony spokesman told Bloomberg. He declined to comment
further on the scope of the investigation.