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Sony's Hirai will pass on a humbler company -- and a tough fight

Outgoing CEO righted the ship, but his successor will lead the search for new growth

Sony's President and CEO Kazuo Hirai will depart this April after six years at the helm.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai will in April hand a hefty baton to successor Kenichiro Yoshida, the strategy and finance chief who helped rescue the electronics and entertainment group from a deep slump but who must contend with the likes of Google and Samsung.

Hirai took the helm in April 2012 following a four-year streak of red ink culminating in the company's worst-ever annual loss. He brought Sony down to earth, taming an overconfidence that stemmed from its days as a tech pioneer that brought mobile entertainment to a world before iPhones. Under Hirai, Sony delivered its best-ever profit. Yoshida was a key player in that effort.

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