TOKYO (Reuters) - An influential former Sony Corp executive on Monday urged current Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai to focus on innovation than just restructuring in a letter criticising the Japanese firm’s management ahead of a shareholder meeting this month.
The letter by Tamotsu Iba, a former Sony CFO and vice chairman, was sent to Sony executives the same day that Japan’s corporate governance code took effect with the aim of improving shareholder accountability in a country where companies have been criticised for not looking after investors’ interests.
Reuters obtained a copy of the letter from a source. A Sony spokesman declined to comment about the contents of the letter, the third that Iba has sent to Sony’s management since the beginning of the year.
In Monday’s letter, Iba criticised Hirai’s plans to give Sony units more independence in decision-making and said the company should consider issuing class shares - similar to plans by Toyota Motor Corp - to secure long-term funds.
He also lamented the lack of innovation which he said dimmed the once iconic brand’s appeal.
Sony is due to hold is annual shareholder meeting on June 23. While Iba owns only a small stake, according to people with knowledge of the matter, he is part of a so-called “old boys” network of influential former executives who played a role in pushing out Hirai’s predecessor, Howard Stringer.
Investors, however, have said Iba’s criticism of Hirai and his management team is unlikely to gain much traction because Sony stocks have more than doubled over the past year amid the restructuring drive.
Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Miral Fahmy