Hitachi Names New President; To Separate Auto Systems & Consumer Electronics Units Into Subsidiaries

March 16, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Hitachi Ltd. announced that it is replacing its president and splitting off its consumer electronics and automotive systems businesses as it readies for a massive loss. Hitachi said the revamp would speed up decision making, boost efficiency and enable it to fuse its automotive and electronics technologies.

The company named Takashi Kawamura as its new President, CEO and Chairman. He is currently chairman of Hitachi Plant Technologies Ltd. and Hitachi Maxwell Ltd.. The current President and CEO, Kazuo Furukawa, will become a Vice Chairman, while Chairman Etsuhiko Shoyama will become a Director.

"The world and Japanese economies are standing at a significant crossroad, and this unprecedented business environment will continue," Kawamura said.. "No company can run away from the impact," he said. "My mission to revive Hitachi is not easy. We would like to meet our stakeholders’ expectations by making swift decisions and taking swift action."

Kawamura said he wants to focus on the social infrastracture sector, particularly energy generation technologies. "We are going to put more emphasis on nuclear power than ever."

The company will split off its auto systems business, which makes products including rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and the consumer electronics arm, which includes flat-panel televisions, into separate companies in July. The two units, which are expected to suffer sizable losses in the year to March, will be wholly owned Hitachi subsidiaries.

The global economic downturn has inflicted heavy damage on the electronics and engineering giant, which is cutting up to 7,000 jobs as it braces for a 700-billion-yen (7.1 billion dollars) loss in the year to March.

Hitachi states that it aims to cut costs by 500 billion yen in the next financial year starting in April, warning that an increase in revenue was "unlikely for the foreseeable future" because of the global economic slowdown.