Sony Corp. has appointed Sir Howard Stringer to succeed Nobuyuki Idei as chairman/CEO. Welsh-born Stringer, who holds dual British and American citizenship, will become the first non-Japanese executiv

LONDON -- Sony Corp. has appointed Sir Howard Stringer to succeed Nobuyuki Idei as chairman/CEO. Welsh-born Stringer, who holds dual British and American citizenship, will become the first non-Japanese executive to run Sony. He is currently chairman/CEO of Sony Corp. of America and vice chairman of Sony Corp.

Sony's board announced the move on March 7 following an extraordinary meeting in Tokyo. Long-time CEO Idei will step down following a period of poor financial results.

Music-industry sources in Tokyo welcomed the appointment. "It's probably quite a good thing," says one source. "[Nissan CEO] Carlos Ghosn has paved the way for the 'foreign manager of Japanese company' approach and shown that it works. On the other hand, the fact that Sony has chosen a foreign CEO means -- as in the case of Nissan -- that drastic surgery is now required. "

Adds one observer: "There should not be too much of an impact as far as the music company is concerned, but perhaps the new appointment will speed the Japanese integration along somehow." Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) and BMG Funhouse continue to operate separately in Japan, in contrast with other territories since the Sony BMG merger.

Analysts say one of the key challenges Stringer faces is putting Sony in a better position to compete against Apple Computer's popular iPod portable music player.

Stringer will continue to live in New York and regularly visit Tokyo, says a Sony spokesman.

As part of the shake-up, Sony Corp. president Kunitake Ando will depart. His successor is Ryoji Chubachi, executive deputy president in charge of electronics parts and production operations. Chubachi will also serve as CEO of Sony's electronics business worldwide.

Prior to joining Sony's upper echelon in 1997, Stringer forged a 30-year career as a journalist, producer and executive at CBS Inc. He is the older brother of Rob Stringer, chairman/CEO of Sony BMG Entertainment U.K. and Ireland.