Toshiba Names Power Systems Chief as Next President

Toshiba's board of directors has nominated Norio Sasaki, the head of its nuclear power and infrastructure business, to become its new president from the middle of this year.

The proposal requires shareholder approval but comes with the recommendation of Atsutoshi Nishida, Toshiba's current president. Nishida has been in Toshiba's top job since 2005 and said at that time he planned to be around for about four years.

The biggest act of Nishida's tenure was Toshiba's acquisition of Westinghouse Electric UK, which transformed the company into a global leader in the nuclear power industry. Toshiba has previously been a strong player in Japan but the US$5.4 billion acquisition from British Nuclear Fuels brought it pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology is had been missing.

When the acquisition was announced Sasaki was executive vice president of Toshiba's industrial and power systems division and two months away from becoming its president.

From June, Toshiba's current president, Nishida, will become chairman of the board and the current chairman, Tadashi Okamura, will become an advisor.

In the current financial year, which ends this month, Toshiba has said it expects to lose ¥280 billion (US$2.8 billion). The loss, if realized, will be Toshiba's first in seven years and as a result the company has already announced a restructuring plan.

The company is cutting capital expenditure partly by delaying construction of a new memory chip plant in Yokkaichi in central Japan until 2010, and postponing construction of a second plant until market conditions show signs of improvement. Toshiba also plans to cut research and development spending by 20 percent and pursue job cuts and encourage work-sharing schemes.

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