Sir Howard Stringer, 71, says he will step down at Sony’s annual shareholder meeting and made the announcement in a speech at the Japan Society in New York. Kazuo Hirai, 52 and former head of the PlayStation unit, succeeded him as CEO almost a year ago. Stringer was put in place in June 2005 and under his watch the once great Sony has fallen behind Samsung in manufacturing and Apple in creativity. Now Hirai is trying to save the company by cutting costs and selling assets. Whether Sony’s Culver City entertainment studio will be one of those assets shed now remains a subject of much speculation especially with Stringer’s departure finalized for June. Hirai has denied speculation that Sony could sell the entertainment divisions. Stringer said he would pursue “new opportunities I’ve been presented with lately”. Stringer is also chairman of the American Film Institute. Stringer came from Sony’s entertainment arm and pointed to the company’s movie, TV and music businesses as “models of stable and innovative leadership and consistently profitable”.