Nintendo Names New Chief With Switch Console on Solid Ground

Nintendo Co. appointed Shuntaro Furukawa as its new president, handing the reins to a relatively young and unknown senior executive after reporting that profit is on track to reach the highest since 2010.

He’ll replace Tatsumi Kimishima, a former banker who last year oversaw the debut of the new console, the Kyoto-based company’s biggest bet in years. For the fiscal year through next March, Nintendo forecast profit of 225 billion yen ($2.1 billion). While that would be the most in eight years, it was below analysts’ average estimate for 308.6 billion yen. Nintendo typically posts conservative guidance, and this is no exception.

Furukawa, 46, joined Nintendo in 1994, worked in global marketing and served on the board of partly owned Pokemon Co. He takes over as the strong results and outlook underscore Nintendo’s confidence that it has worked out the Switch’s first-year production kinks and can attract buyers from beyond the hybrid console’s core base. While the company had a strong lineup of games last year to drive hardware sales, it only has one new big-name title — Super Smash Bros. — scheduled for release this year.

“Furukawa comes across as thoughtful, very knowledgeable and quite well informed,” said Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies Group, who has met him several times in person. “He is fluent in English. He may be the perfect person to fill the communication gap that exists between Nintendo and investors.”

A graduate of Waseda University, Furukawa worked for about 10 years in Germany, according to the Nikkei newspaper. While he spent much of his tenure at the company’s accounting office, rising to head Nintendo’s corporate planning division in 2015, Furukawa has also contributed to software development and was involved in the making of the Switch.

“We will develop the company to its fullest,” Furukawa said at a news conference in Osaka. “I will balance Nintendo’s traditions: originality and flexibility.”

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