By Junko Fujita and Tim Kelly
TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp plans to shut operations in a Tokyo office building that houses 8 percent of its Japan staff, one of the first concrete moves by the electronics and entertainment company to pave the way for 4,000 job cuts.
The move, part of a still-unfolding restructuring under Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai, had not been previously disclosed.
Sony will shut down the Shinagawa Technology Center, a 31-storey building it has occupied since it was built in 1998, a company spokesman told Reuters. The 4,800 staff in the center will be relocated.
The move, expected to be completed by September, is intended to cut costs and make it easier for Sony to move ahead with a realignment of its business and a retreat from its money-losing TV manufacturing operations, the spokesman said.
Sony plans to reduce its global workforce by 10,000 people by March 31, including almost 4,000 in Japan.
It said last week that those reductions would include cutting headquarters staff by a fifth through an early retirement program and shutting down a factory in Gifu, Japan that had made lenses for cameras and mobile phones.
The Shinagawa building, a short walk from Sony's headquarters, is owned by Nippon Steel Kowa Real Estate, Sumitomo Life Insurance Co and Obayashi Corp.
By shifting staff to lower-cost facilities like its campus in suburban Atsugi, Sony expects to be able to cut costs, although it did not say how much that could be. The company is set to announce quarterly earnings on November 1.
"The move should be a significant cost saving for Sony," said Fred Takahashi, executive director at CBRE Japan, a real-estate services provider.
Sony completed the sale of its chemical business to a state-run bank in September, a move that shifted 1,800 workers from its payroll.
Hirai has pledged to revive Sony by focusing on gaming, digital imaging and mobile devices while pushing into new businesses like medical devices. The stock is down 43 percent since Hirai took the helm.
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)