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Sony creates senior entertainment unit role amid restructuring

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp has appointed for the first time a president for its profitable U.S.-based entertainment business, the latest in a series of management changes at the Japanese consumer electronics giant which is trying to bolster its finances.

Sony said on Friday it had appointed Nicole Seligman, the current head of its U.S. operations, to the newly created role which reports to Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton. She will step down as executive vice president and general counsel, although she will continue to advise on legal issues. Her appointment will be voted on at a board meeting on June 19.

Seligman's appointment follows a shake-up at Sony's Tokyo headquarters which included the appointment of Kenichiro Yoshida as chief strategic and financial officer, and who has been lauded by investors for spearheading a restructuring drive.

Sony also came under pressure last year from shareholder Daniel Loeb, chief executive of U.S.-based hedge fund Third Point, to partially spin off its entertainment business because it lacked transparency and was performing below its potential.

Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai rebuffed the proposal, saying it was important for the company to retain full ownership, but has improved disclosure at the unit.

Hirai said at a recent corporate strategy briefing that strengthening the entertainment and financial businesses were among Sony's priorities. Both units are reliable sources of profit for the company which has been weighed down by losses from its flagship electronics division.

(This story corrects second paragraph to note Seligman will step down, not remain, as executive vice president)

(Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Miral Fahmy)

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