Australian subsidiary welcomes new Sharp Corporation president

By James Wells

SYDNEY: The local subsidiary of Sharp Corporation has welcomed the appointment of 49-year-old Mr Mikio Katayama as its new president, while the former president, Mr Katsuhiko Machida, has been appointed chairman.

The appointment, which became effective from 1 April, represents the beginning of the new Japanese financial year.

“Mr Katayama is relatively young for a president. It is an indication of the thinking going forward for Sharp and represents a substantial change in the historical methodology of having a president in his latter years. It is hoped that a younger person in the position will inject an air of youth and enthusiasm and new thinking into the company," said Sharp Corporation of Australia deputy managing director, Denis Kerr.

“This is a best of both worlds approach, as Mr Katayma will still benefit from the wise head of Mr Machida sitting behind him as chairman of the company.”

Kerr said that Machida will be remembered for his prediction in 1998 that his company would phase out cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions by 2005.

“Mr Machida’s comment on LCD was a brave move at the time, but has been proved to be exactly right. He had the confidence to make his prediction knowing the advancements that Sharp was capable of in LCD as we were the inventor of the technology,” said Sharp managing director, Dennis Kerr.

According to a Reuters report, Mr Katayama is a 26-year company veteran who has spent most of his career working within Sharp’s liquid crystal display (LCD) business. Most recently, Mr Katayama was in charge of Sharp’s LCD panels sold as televisions as well as audio-visual products including DVD recorders.

"Katayama, a graduate from the prestigious University of Tokyo, is expected to face tough competition from larger rivals Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. as the Osaka-based company aims to boost its LCD television sales by 50 percent to 9 million units in the business year starting April," the Reuters report said.

"In an effort to better compete with Sony and Samsung, Sharp last year brought onstream the world’s first plant that handles efficiency-boosting eighth-generation glass substrates, which can yield eight 40-inch-class panels up from three panels from the sixth-generation substrates used at its adjacent plant.

"Its operating profit in October-December rose 13 per cent from a year earlier as the cutting-edge panel plant helped it cope with steep falls in flat TV prices."

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