No local cuts claims Sony

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Sony Australia has confirmed it expects no cuts to local staff or channel relationships as part of a global restructure -- including 20,000 redundancies over three years -- announced in Tokyo on Tuesday, 28 October.

Toshikazu Mashima, managing direcotr of Sony Australia, said the global restructure and redundancies should come as "no surprise" to its local resellers and retailers, given the company's focus on convergence and ongoing investment in R&D and growing sales of emerging technologies.

"We already had ... structural reform in Australia this year aligned with current and emerging market requirements. While I don't have any real indication of how our manpower [needs] will change over the next few years, there is no specific plan to reduce our headcount at a local level," he said.

Sony Australia would continue to determine its own staff requirements independently of Sony Corporation, he said. The division has 455 of Sony Corporation's 900 Australia-based employees.

Most of the planned job cuts are likely to be made in Japan, with 7,000 staff slated to be cut there.

Mashima said the restructure and associated changes globally would benefit Australian Sony resellers as it "confirms our determination to focus on future profitability for ourselves and our retailers".

A Sony Australia spokeswoman said notebooks, digital imaging -- including still cameras and handycams -- wide-screen TV and home theatre were 'key growth categories for the company here.

"Notebooks are doing especially well," she said.

Adrian Christie, a spokesman for another local Sony Corporation subsidiary, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA), said that group was not expecting any redundancies in Australia either.

 "We are not aware of any redundancies [to be made] here," he said.

SCEA, which employs 44 staff here, has just announced a deal with broad-based distributor Tech Pacific to introduce its flagship gaming console, PlayStation 2, to Australia's IT channel. Sony sold its one-millionth PS2 in Australia, prior to the TechPac deal which takes effect from November.

Sony and business partner Toshiba are also reportedly embroiled in an intellectual property rights lawsuit filed in the US State of Wisconsin. A representative for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the group that administers patents obtained by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, said it filed the suit last week in US District Court.

The dispute is believed to centre on PlayStation's Emotion Engine chip, a CPU designed and made jointly by Sony and Toshiba. Sony and Toshiba have allegedly failed to get an associated patent licence.

Christie said it was Sony policy not to comment on such lawsuits. "In relation to the question about the lawsuit, we don't comment on any pending or active litigation. That's just standard," he said.

SCEA could not answer further questions on either issue, or on any relationship with the gaming console market, at this stage, he said.

Sony Electronics' global consolidated financial results for the quarter ending 30 September stated a net income for the quarter of 32.9 billion Yen, a fall of 25.3 percent from the previous quarter.

Results by product category suggested strong customer growth in information and communications (12 percent), semiconductors (26.4 percent), components (24.4 percent), and 'other' - a category including gaming (16.9 percent).

However, video (1 percent) and television (0.6 percent) were less strong while the audio category dropped 7.2 percent.


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