Sony's top two executives, Chairman and Group CEO Nobuyuki Idei and President Kunitake Ando – who appeared on stage with Steve Jobs at Macworld San Francisco – are to step down as heads of the company.

Idei will be replaced by Howard Stringer, who is currently vice chairman and chief operating officer (COO) of Sony. Stringer is also chairman and CEO of Sony of America. Ando will be replaced by Ryoji Chubachi, who is currently executive deputy president and COO of Sony, the company said.

Several other executives will also resign from the board including Ken Kutaragi, executive deputy president and COO with responsibility for Sony's home electronics and semiconductor businesses, Sony said. Kutaragi has long been viewed as the successor to Idei at the head of Sony. He will continue as president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., the company responsible for the PlayStation family of games devices.

The appointment of Stringer marks the first time Sony has appointed a foreigner as its top executive since the company was formed as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK in May 1946.

In his new position, Stringer will be responsible for the overall business operations of the Sony group, which includes its core electronics business and its computer gaming, music, movies and financial businesses, Sony said. He will continue to head Sony's entertainment and US operations and be based in both Tokyo and New York.

Chubachi will be responsible for Sony's global electronics business, the company said.

These appointments will become effective from June 22, pending approval at the company's general shareholders meeting that is scheduled for the same day, Sony said. However, the transition to move Stringer and Chubachi into their new positions will begin immediately under the assumption shareholders will approve their appointments, the company said.

Both Idei and Ando will remain at Sony and take the titles chief corporate advisor and advisor, respectively, it said.

Sony will announce full details of the management reshuffle at a Tokyo news conference scheduled to begin at 3:30 pm, local time (6:30 pm GMT).