Sony president to step down
Welsh-born Sony president Howard Stringer is to step down as the Japanese games, music and electronics giant’s president, reports said yesterday, while remaining CEO and chairman. The move puts his reported successor, Sony executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai, a games and music veteran, in pole position to ultimately take over at the top of the company. Sony is planning a drastic restructuring under Hirai to try to return to profit, the Nikkei Shimbun economic daily said, saying that the group is braced to report its fourth consecutive annual loss for the year ending in March.
West prepares for blockade
Iran on Friday announced new military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, but the West has readied plans to use strategic oil stocks to replace almost all Persian Gulf oil lost if Iran blocks the waterway, industry sources and diplomats said. They said senior executives of the International Energy Agency discussed on Thursday an existing plan to release up to 14 million barrels per day of government-owned oil stored in the US, Europe, Japan and other importers. This rate of release could be kept up for a month, offsetting most of the 16 million barrels a day of crude passing through the world’s most important shipping lane that could be halted by an Iranian blockade.
German solar projects surge
German solar projects surged last month as developers rushed to complete systems before subsidies fall, driving total installation last year close to the record posted in 2010. Developers installed between 2 gigawatts and 3 gigawatts of panels last month, and total volume for last year will approach the 7 gigawatts reported the year before, the BSW-Solar lobby group said in an e-mailed statement. The figures add to pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to curtail subsidies that have supported a three-year boom, making Germany the world’s biggest market for solar power. They also indicate strengthening demand that may help offset the plunging price of panels that has depressed the shares of manufacturers from Q-Cells SE to LDK Solar Co. The strength of the installations will probably trigger an automatic 15 percent cut in subsidies beginning in July, the lobby group said.
Nokia to unveil Ace phone
Nokia Oyj will unveil its first Windows Phone for AT&T Inc at the Consumer Electronics Show tomorrow, two people familiar with the matter said, boosting an effort by Microsoft Corp to regain market share lost to Apple Inc and Google Inc. Nokia and AT&T, the -second--largest US wireless carrier, will announce plans to begin selling the Nokia Ace in the coming months, said the people, who declined to be identified because the arrangements are private. The handset will be the first Windows Phone to use the next-generation wireless technology known as long-term evolution, the people said. AT&T is set to become the biggest US carrier to announce a Nokia Windows handset, underscoring the agreement’s importance to Microsoft. Nokia is working to revive sales after it lost its ranking of world No. 1 smartphone maker to Samsung Electronics Co in the third quarter, researcher Gartner Inc said. The Nokia Ace will run the newest version of the Windows Phone software, one of the people said. While the price has not been finalized, the device might sell for US$249 with a two-year contract, the person said.