Two exex ankle Virgin

A shake-up at Virgin Records’ American branch Monday saw the exit of co-chairmen Jeff Ayeroff and Jordan Harris, both resigning effective immediately from the division they helped found seven years ago.

Although a statement released by Harris andAyeroff said they had planned their exit since Virgin was sold to Thorn-EMI last spring, industry sources said the executives resigned because of the management logjam at the company and subsequent erosion of their duties.

Virgin Music Group chairman/CEO Ken Berry recently relocated to the U.S. from England along with his influential wife, Nancy Berry, executive VP.

Including Phil Quartararo, president of Virgin and Charisma Records, the addition of the Berrys meant five executives were fighting for a share of power. Quartararo was named Monday as president and chief executive officer of Virgin Records America.

Virgin’s official statement gave no reason for the exit. The parting has been rumored for some time, although most observers felt that nothing would happen until the conclusion of the ongoing trial in Los Angeles U.S. District Court that pits Virgin against singer Yvette Marine, who claimed she was the co-lead vocal on Paula Abdul’s Virgin debut album, “Forever Your Girl.” Harris has testified on Virgin’s behalf at the trial.

Harris and Ayeroff’s statement read: “When Virgin was sold last year, we agreed to stay on long enough to see the company through the transition. With three albums and three singles in the top 10, we felt this to be the ideal time to make our exit.”

Berry said he was “sorry to see Jordan and Jeff leave the company after all these years. … However, I am pleased to be able to place the company in the capable hands of Phil Quartararo.” Harris and Ayeroff’s involvement with Virgin began at A&M Records, where they were product managers overseeing details of Virgin’s American distribution arrangements with that label.

Ayeroff later moved to head the creative services department at Warner Bros. Records but rejoined Harris at Virgin in 1986, when the worldwide company started its American venture. Harris and Jordan were named co-managing directors in 1986 and became co-chairmen last year following the merger of the Virgin label with Charisma Records.

Quartararo joined Virgin Records America in 1986, launching Charisma Records in 1990 as its president. He became president of both labels following their merger last year.

The resignations continue a volatile time at Virgin, which was sold last spring to Thorn-EMI for more than $ 900 million. There were massive layoffs in the months following the sale, and Charisma Records was merged into Virgin.

Although the label remains autonomous from Thorn-EMI’s other North American operations, there are persistent rumors concerning the eventual merger of Virgin into the rest of the EMI Records Group North American operations, headed by CharlesKoppelman.

Virgin has been hot in the last month, boasting albums by Janet Jackson, Smashing Pumpkins and UB40 in the top 10. The label’s roster also includes the Rolling Stones, Steve Winwood and Lenny Kravitz.

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