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Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Matsushita announces president to step aside


Kunio Nakamura is stepping down as president of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co and will be replaced by a senior executive who oversees the Japanese electronics maker's TV business, the company said yesterday.

Nakamura, who has led a revival at Matsushita by cutting costs and focusing on key products, will be succeeded by Fumio Ohtsubo, a senior managing director, and the move will become final after a shareholders meeting in June, the company said in a statement.

Ohtsubo -- who also oversees DVD recorders, displays, portable music players and other audiovisual goods -- had been seen as a candidate to become the next president, and there had been some speculation that Nakamura might make way for new leadership.

Nakamura, who joined Matsushita -- the maker of Panasonic brand goods -- in 1962 and led its US operations since the late 1980s, saw an opportune time to hand over leadership to Ohtsubo now that the company is on a stable track to recovery with better profits, according to a company spokesman.

Nakamura will stay on as chairman, the company said.

Nakamura became president in 2000 at a time when Osaka-based Matsushita was in deep trouble. Over the years, he has led a gradual recovery since Matsushita posted its worst loss since its founding 80 years ago for the fiscal year through March 2002.

His decision to focus on products that were delivering solid profits such as DVD recorders and flat-panel TVs proved a success, and Matsushita's results have since improved.

Matsushita chalked up a ?49.3 billion (US$416 million) group net profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up 39 percent from he same period the previous year as sales climbed 4 percent at ?2.398 trillion.

Matsushita is expecting a ?130 billion profit for the fiscal year ending in March, revised upward from a previous projection for ?110 billion, and fiscal 2005 sales are expected to total ?8.84 trillion.

Matsushita has been investing aggressively in producing computer chips and flat panels to keep its edge in more expensive gadgets that can keep it ahead of cheaper Asian rivals.

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