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WB Records prexy ankles

Quartararo exits 5-year post, eyes move within AOL TW

NEW YORK — In a move that had been expected for several months, Warner Bros. Records prexy Phil Quartararo has ankled his post after almost five years at the Warner Music flagship label.

Company sources said Quartararo, credited with helping to lift the label out of a stubborn streak of financial losses in the 1990s, had been planning the move for two months. But speculation began about his possible departure when Warner Bros. chairman Tom Whalley came on board last August.

“Phil Q has done a lot for the company, but Whalley already has a lot of deputies,” one industry insider said.

It’s not yet clear where the exec — whose contract was to expire at the end of the year — will head next. Insiders have confirmed published reports that Quartararo is seeking employment elsewhere in the AOL Time Warner empire, but the exec said he’s not ruling out external offers.

“They have expressed to me that they’re very interested in keeping me within the corporation,” Quartararo told Daily Variety. “If that could happen in some capacity, I’d be thrilled, but to tell you the truth, this is all really new and I don’t have a sense of it just yet.”

Quartararo rode out the tail end of a decade of drought at the Bunny diskery, after ankling his post at Virgin Records to join Warners in 1997. The subsequent years saw continuing losses, capped by a round of layoffs across the Warner Music Group and the departure in February 2001 of chairman and chief exec Russ Thyret.

Turnaround in 2001

But Warner Bros. turned its operation around in 2001 — thanks in large part to Quartararo, who effectively helmed the label for more than a year — posting a $50 million profit for the year on the back of strong sales by acts such as Linkin Park, Enya and Michelle Branch.

Warner Music topper Roger Ames is said to have offered Quartararo a leadership role in the promotion operations of Warner Music as a whole — an area where he has considerable experience — but the two execs weren’t able to hammer out the fine points on the deal.