Warner Music China topper ankles post

Xu follows former deputy manager Song

BEIJING — In the second high-level departure in less than a year, Warner Music China’s CEO, Xu Xiaofeng, ankled Monday, possibly signaling that rumored restructuring has begun.

Xu resigned in an open letter to Warner Music China employees, indicating he wished to travel and to continue his cooperation with the company through “investment and representation,” according to Chinese news reports.

Former Warner China deputy manager Song Ke left in February. Song, who merged his label with Warner China in 2000, said he intended to start either a boutique diskery or an artist management agency. Both resignations are unusual in a country where jobs typically last for life.

A Warner China spokesman would not comment on whether Xu was leaving ahead of restructuring at the major, believed to be set for the first quarter of this year.

Warner China manages top domestic stars including singer Pu Shu and thrush-actress Zhou Xun but faces stiff competition from other labels and from music imported from Warner’s Hong Kong and Taiwan arms.

Other Warner countries and territories were restructured amid job cuts last year, but the China operation had been spared as the territory is a potential growth market.

However, tough challenges from Sony Music and Universal, combined with Sony’s 2004 merger with BMG and the lingering scourge of piracy, forced the company to include China in its worldwide belt-tightening.

In the summer, Warner Music integrated its Chinese-language regional offices by appointing Samuel Chou, formerly Warner Music Taiwan’s managing director, as head of operations for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Warner’s film operations in China will not be affected.