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Recession Brings Changes For Electronics Giant Hitachi

March 16, 2009

With massive financial losses coming down the pike, Hitachi announced on Monday that it was replacing its president and splitting off its automotive systems and consumer electronics operations, the AFP reported.

The company is hopeful that the new changes will spark faster decision making, boost efficiency and enable it to fuse its automotive and electronics technologies.

Sixty-nine year-old Takashi Kawamura, who currently heads two of its subsidiaries, became the new president, chief executive and chairman of Hitachi.

In July, the company plans to split its auto systems business, which makes products including rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and the consumer electronics arm, which includes flat-panel televisions, into two separate businesses.

Both units will be owned by Hitachi subsidiaries.

Hitachi has been forced to cut up to 7,000 jobs as it braces for a $7.1 billion loss in the year to March, due to the global economic downturn.

The company announced the slow economy is expected to force some $5.1 billion in cost cuts in the next financial year starting next month, adding that an increase in revenue was “unlikely for the foreseeable future.”

The recession has ravaged electronics makers in several major markets, including the United States, Europe and Japan.

The slowdown has forced job cuts from most major companies, including Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer.

Kawamura, the new head, is currently chairman of Hitachi Plant Technologies Ltd. and Hitachi Maxwell Ltd.

The companies former president and CEO, Kazuo Furukawa, will become a vice chairman, while chairman Etsuhiko Shoyama would become a director.

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