Sony Picks Possible Heir to Stringer in Realignment

In a sign that Sony Corp. has anointed a possible successor to Chief Executive Howard Stringer, the company said it plans to combine its videogame and consumer electronics businesses and then promote Kazuo Hirai, the head of its PlayStation game business, to oversee the newly formed unit.

By handing over the reins of Sony’s two highest-profile businesses, the company is elevating Mr. Hirai, 50 years old, a longtime executive who has played a major role in building the PlayStation business from scratch since the early 1990s, to a position that would make him the front-runner to eventually succeed Mr. Stringer.

Mr. Stringer himself, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, confirmed the intent behind Mr. Hirai’s promotion. “He is the leading candidate,” said Mr. Stringer, who announced he is staying on as CEO for the foreseeable future. “The logic (of the choice) is inescapable.”

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