Business, Economics and Jobs

Sony execs to give up bonuses after consumer electronics unit posts loss


Xperia tablets are seen at the Sony booth during the 52nd edition of the 'IFA' (Internationale Funkausstellung) trade fair in Berlin on August 30, 2012. The company has pulled the tablets off the market due to a manufacturing defect.


Odd Andersen

SEOUL, South Korea — Forty Sony Corp. executives will forgo bonuses totaling an estimated 1 billion yen ($10 million) after they failed to meet a goal to make the company’s consumer electronics business profitable again.

CEO Kazuo Hirai took bold steps to boost the electronics division when he became chief executive in April 2012. He slashed 10,000 jobs company-wide and reduced investment in the unprofitable television unit, Bloomberg News reported. But his efforts were apparently not enough.

Each executive, including Hirai, will now give back bonuses worth between 30 and 50 percent of their pay, according to the Financial Times.

Sony, along with much of the Japanese electronics industry, has been eclipsed by Apple and Samsung; the decision of executives to take bonus cuts only confirms how low the company as fallen from its glory days in the 1980s and 1990s.

More from GlobalPost: Can Sony get its mojo back?

Some commentators are even calling Sony a "zombie company," citing its wasteful corporate bureaucracy, expensive prices, and inability to produce the most innovative products today.

But there is some hope for Sony.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a move that some would call an attempt at nationalist revival, is embarking on a massive stimulus program. In theory, a torrent of cash on the market will bring down the cost of the expensive yen, lowering the cost of exports from Sony and other Japanese companies — at least closer to the relatively low costs of South Korean exports.

That will only fix some macroeconomic problems, however. Sony also needs to cut down on its bureaucratic fat and restructure its operations to get anywhere.

In a preliminary earnings statement last week, Sony said that overall, the company probably made a net profit of 40 billion yen ($400 million) for the fiscal year that ended on March 31 — its first profit in five years. The company said it benefited from one-time gains from asset sales and a weaker yen.

Sony's consumer electronics unit still fell short.

Final earnings figures for the year will be announced on May 9.

Geoffrey Cain contributed to this report from Seoul.