Sony Corp said on Wednesday that Vice President Kazuo Hirai will take over the roles of CEO and president on April 1 from Howard Stringer, who will retain the chairman's post as the company struggles to regain its standing in the consumer electronics sector in which it was once a driving force.

Sony signalled last March that Hirai would be Stringer's successor by promoting him to head consumer products and services, which makes up the bulk of Sony's $85 billion (53 billion pounds) in annual sales.

Early last month, Japanese media reported that Hirai was due to take the president's post as early as April.

Sony has forecast a fourth year in a row of net losses for the year ending on March 31, hurt by its struggling TV unit as its technology prowess wanes and it loses ground to South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S gave a consensus forecast of 8.8 billion yen (73.15 million pounds) in operating profit for the October-December quarter and 8.2 billion yen for the full financial year to March.

Sony said it would brief the media on the management changes on Thursday, when it is also due to announce its October-December earnings.

(Reporting By Nobuhiro Kubo, Yoko Kubota; Editing by Joseph Radford)