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Sony trims CEO Howard Stringer pay by 16%, approves Kazuo Hirai promotion

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Sony Corp. Chief Executive Howard Stringer’s compensation fell 16% last fiscal year as the electronics and entertainment giant struggles to recover from the effects of the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

Stringer’s salary and bonuses for the fiscal year ended March 31 totaled 345 million yen, roughly $4.3 million, down from 408 million yen, or about $5 million, a year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday to Sony shareholders. Sony first began to report executive salaries last year in compliance with a Japanese law that went into effect in 2010.

Though this year’s earthquake and resulting tsunami in Sony’s home country occurred in the final weeks of the company’s fiscal year, the disaster triggered a $4.4-billion noncash write-off that turned what would have been a profitable year into the company’s third consecutive annual loss.

With the Japanese economy in turmoil, Sony told investors in May that it was unlikely to see a profit in Japan for some time.

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Compounding Sony’s troubles was an April attack on its computer networks. Sony in May estimated that it would spend $171.7 million this year to repair the damage done by hackers who infiltrated its computers and accessed the account information of hundreds of millions of consumers who used its PlayStation Network and Qriocity online services.

The attack was a rough welcome for Kazuo Hirai, who was elevated March 10, a day before the earthquake, to become the likely successor to Stringer. In a broad corporate realignment, Hirai, 50, was given responsibility for Sony’s consumer electronics business as well as its networked entertainment divisions, which include PlayStation and Qriocity.

Shareholders approved Hirai’s promotion Tuesday, cementing his path to become Sony’s next CEO.

-- Alex Pham

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