We asked earlier this year whether Sharp’s President Okuda would survive the year, and the answer has turned out to be no. After the questioning of his leadership in the Wall Street Journal and the Nikkei and the fall out with Hon Hai over the deal with Samsung, I suppose it was inevitable something had to give. Okuda is elevated to Chairman, and the current Chairman Mikio Katayama (supposedly the key player in the Qualcomm and Samsung deals and according to May 15th’s Nikkei ($), the main instigator of the reshuffle) will stand aside, at the very young age of 55. He had already stepped aside to let Okuda (his senior at 59) take over as President only a year ago. Other ex presidents are going to have their advisor roles “reviewed” as the board is shrunk down, in order to consolidate the power the incoming president has.
The new president will be the current EVP Kozo Takahashi (58 years old). Takahashi comes from the copier and white goods side of the business (so won’t have any sentimental attachment to struggling LCD business) headed up Sharp’s Americas operations, and apparently the hope is that this experience will help Sharp in its alliances with overseas firms and expand its business in developing markets.
Sharp has today revealed its mid term plan(pdf) and its financial results for the year (a net loss of nearly Y550bn/$5bn). Overseas sales have risen from 52% of total revenues to 59%, still far short of the previously announced target of 75%. The forecast for FY13 is for overseas sales to be 62% of total sales, with growth coming from developing markets in the Middle East, Africa and ASEAN.
The results and forecasts for the European business are depressing. Europe’s share of the overseas business has declined from 22% in 2011 to 11.9% in 2012, and is forecast to decline further to 10% in FY13. This represents a decline in absolute as well as relative terms. The midterm plan says it will restructure its LCD and solar cell businesses in Europe and “structure a business promoting system to efficiently operate in all of Europe” which I presume means consolidating sales and back office operations the way other electronics companies such as Sony have done recently. Sharp already took a first step towards this last year with the establishment of a European headquarters in the UK, headed up by Paul Molyneux. The Spanish LCD factory seems to have disappeared from Sharp’s EU website since, so it looks like the UK and Poland factories may be next for scrutiny.
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