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Loss-saddled Sony to sell its Tokyo 'birthplace'

TOKYO/SAN FRANCISCO--Sony said Friday it would sell properties at a prestigious Tokyo site where it had its headquarters for six decades, as the once-world beating firm struggles to repair its bottom line.

The company's 16.1 billion yen (US$157 million) deal to sell the real estate to Sumitomo Realty and Development will be completed next month, it said.

The properties are in the Gotenyama area near the city's Shinagawa railway station, where land prices have been on the rise recently.

In 2007, the firm sold a portion of the site, moving its headquarters to the opposite side of Shinagawa station.

Sony started as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo in 1946, the year after Japan's defeat in World War II. The following year it moved from a different site in the capital to the Gotenyama area, where it grew into a global player built on its groundbreaking Walkman and popular televisions.

A museum archiving Sony's epoch-making products will be one of its few remaining properties there.

The deal Friday comes after Sony said last year it was selling its U.S. headquarters in Manhattan for US$1.1 billion as it looks to recoup from four consecutive years of losses.

Sony and domestic rivals Panasonic and Sharp have faced severe competition from abroad in their hard-hit consumer electronics units and have been undergoing painful restructurings to move past years of losses.

Despite returning to profit in its latest fiscal year, Sony is braced for a US$1.08 billion loss in the 12 months to March as it plans to cut 5,000 jobs and exit the stagnant PC market.

On Friday, Sony said the real-estate sale would not affect its earnings forecast for the current fiscal year.

US Sony Chief Out Amid Restructuring

Jack Tretton will step down this month as chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, the company announced Thursday.

Tretton's departure as head of the key U.S. division comes as the Japanese entertainment and consumer electronics titan increasingly counts on its PlayStation division to lead a charge back to financial glory.

Tretton will step down effective March 31, turning the job of Sony Computer Entertainment America chief over to Shawn Layden, currently chief operating officer of Sony Network Entertainment International, according to a statement.

The change in leadership resulted from a mutual agreement not to renew Tretton's contract, Sony said.

Tretton has been with SCEA since it was created in 1995 and was credited with playing pivotal roles launching each generation of PlayStation as well as the consoles' online entertainment service and handheld game device Vita.

“Working at SCEA for the past 19 years has been the most rewarding experience of my career,” Tretton said in a released statement.

“I leave PlayStation in a position of considerable strength and the future will only get brighter for PlayStation Nation.”

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This file picture taken on Feb. 28 shows a general view of the former headquarters of Sony in Tokyo.

(AFP)

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