Sony Shareholders Let CEO Keep Pay Secret

Pay is reported in an aggregate manner.

On June 20 Sony Corp. shareholders voted down a proposal to force the electronics giant to reveal how much it pays top executives including chief executive Howard Stringer. For a seventh year running, a shareholder advocacy group called on Sony to disclose the individual wages of top management. Currently it only reports their aggregate pay -- a policy that Stringer insisted was "appropriate."

Despite growing shareholder activism in Japan, only 39.7% of Sony shareholders supported the proposal at their annual meeting, far short of the two-thirds majority needed to force the company to comply. This year's annual shareholder meetings in Japan are being closely watched for signs of investors flexing their muscles.

Sony has axed thousands of jobs and shed non-core assets since Stringer took over in 2005 as its first ever foreign head. "Although we have made great progress in our recovery, Sony is still on the road to transformation," Stringer told shareholders on June 20.

"Our utmost priority is to restore profitability in our television business," he said. "The business environment surrounding Sony is becoming increasingly tough" but it would strive to make an operating profit equivalent to five percent of its revenue, which it failed to do in the financial year to March."

Sony's annual net profit almost tripled to hit a record high in the year to March as brisk sales of digital cameras and laptop computers offset continued losses from the PlayStation 3 games console. The electronics giant has endured a difficult past few years amid tough competition from rival products such as Apple's iPod music player and Nintendo's Wii games console. Stringer said Sony would work hard to regain its reputation for innovation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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