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Sony to slash workforce in electronics revamp

CEO confirms plans to accelerate overhaul of core hardware biz

Sony Corp., still weighed down by hefty overhead costs and fragmented business culture that former CEO Sir Howard Stringer struggled with, is accelerating its revamp with 2,000 layoffs at a factory and corporate headquarters in Japan.

Sony brass are focused on turning around the conglom’s core electronics business, which has been pummeled by competition from rivals for much of the past decade. New chief executive Kazuo Hirai is charged with nursing the company back to health, a feat that some on Wall Street have started to doubt is still possible.

In a statement Friday, Sony said it’s accelerating its revamp, which is focused on streamlining operations and making faster decisions after speedier rivals from Apple to Samsung grabbed market share.

Sony has announced plans to cut its workforce by 10,000, including 3,000-4,000 jobs in Japan, in the current fiscal year ending March 30.

It is closing a plant for digital imaging and mobile phones in Minokamo, Japan and slashing 20% of staff from headquarters and another 20% from the home entertainment, sound and television (set) business. It cut 1,800 jobs when it sold its chemicals business.

The overhaul will result in 75 billion yen (about $950 million) in restructuring charges this fiscal year but will reduce costs by circa $380 billion yen starting in fiscal 2014.

Separately, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, CBS Corp. topper Leslie Moonves confirmed speculation that he’d consider buying Sony Pictures Entertainment if it went ever on sale. Rumors about a sale or IPO of the U.S. entertainment biz have been floating around for years, but Sony’s given no indication that such a move is in the cards.

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