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kazuo hirai

In his speech at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has condemned the “vicious” cyber attack that led to it suspending the release of its film The Interview.

The Guardians of Peace hacker group attacked Sony in a bid to stop the release of the movie.

Kazuo Hirai said he was proud of those who stood up against the “extortionist” tactics of the hackers.

“Both Sony, former employees and current employees were the victim of one of the most vicious and malicious cyber attacks in recent history,” said Kazuo Hirai in off-the-cuff remarks made just before Sony’s press conference at CES began.

Speaking to the press, Kazuo Hirai said it would be “remiss” of him if he did not talk about the events of the last few weeks.

Sony has suffered a series of revelations orchestrated by the Guardians of Peace which gained access to the company’s network and stole huge amounts of internal information.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

This led to movies being pirated, personal information being shared and millions of private emails published.

The attacks were carried out to convince Sony to halt the release of The Interview – a comedy about journalists recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The movie’s subject matter led US authorities to blame North Korea for the cyber assault, but many security experts have expressed doubt about this theory.

Sony did withdraw The Interview before its planned release, but it is now available to view online and is on show at some cinemas. It made about $15 million through downloads alone over its first three days of distribution.

“I have to say that I’m very proud of all the employees, and certainly the partners who stood up against the extortionist efforts of criminals, and worked tirelessly, sometimes for days on end to bring you The Interview,” said Kazuo Hirai.

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Sony will shed 10,000 jobs over the next 12 months as part of a major reorganization, company’s CEO Kazuo Hirai has announced.

The cuts, which represent 6% of the global workforce, include staff working in businesses that are being sold, such as its chemicals division.

Sony has been struggling to compete in the television business with South Korea’s Samsung and LG, while Apple has challenged it in audio gear and phones.

On Tuesday, Sony forecast a record annual loss of $6.4 billion, double its previous estimate. Its share price has fallen 40% over the past 12 months.

Sony says it will focus its business on three areas – digital imaging, games consoles and mobile devices.

The electronics company hopes the changes will help to generate sales of $10.5 billion by the financial year ending in March 2015, with a profit margin of 5%.

CEO Kazuo Hirai announces that Sony will cut 10,000 jobs over the next 12 months as part of a major reorganization

CEO Kazuo Hirai announces that Sony will cut 10,000 jobs over the next 12 months as part of a major reorganization

In the last financial year, Sony reported sales of $7.9 billion.

“We have heard a multitude of investor voices calling for change. Sony will change,” Kazuo Hirai – who took over as chief executive earlier this month – said at a press conference.

“Sony has always been an entrepreneurial company. That spirit has not changed,” he said.

The reorganization will cost Sony $926 million during the current financial year.

But analysts have been underwhelmed by Kazuo Hirai’s announcement.

“I for one was expecting more,” said Pelham Smithers, who runs his own consultancy specializing in the electronics industry.

“This presentation has the same feel as a presentation made three to four years ago when the previous chief executive, Howard Stringer, tried to restructure.”

“But back then Samsung and Apple were not as powerful as they are today,” he said.

Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex, said: “I don’t see anything new here. They’ve talked before about bringing the TV business back to profits. The comments about the electronics business are the same.”

“Nothing has changed from what they’ve flagged in the past, including the M&A plans in the medical field,” he said.

Sony’s television business has lost money for the past eight years. Analysts say that while it sells about 20 million TV sets a year, it is still not big enough to be profitable.

To tackle that problem Sony is planning to cut costs in the business by 60% by March 2014.

“If they’re planning to cut fixed costs by 60%, that signifies the closure of one factory, and the business can shrink. That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” said Kikuchi Makoto, chief executive at Myojo Asset Management.

“The problem is that the plan is lacking in specifics on the plus side.”

Rival Japanese TV maker Sharp is also forecasting hefty losses. It expects an annual loss of $4.7 billion this year.