Eyeing Asia expansion, Bertelsmann on Tuesday appointed Michael Smellie to rep the German media giant’s interests in the new post of president of media development, Asia Pacific.

Smellie, who was Sony BMG’s chief operating officer until the end of 2005, will report to Bertelsmann chairman-CEO Gunter Thielen.

He will initially focus on developing operations in China, where his first step will be to build up a liaison office.

Describing Smellie as an “outstanding expert for the Asian growth markets,” Thielen said the exec would “systematically and forcefully advance our business in this important region.”

Smellie joined Bertelsmann in 1993 as managing director of BMG Australia, later taking on the management of all BMG operations in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2001 Smellie moved to BMG’s New York headquarters as chief operating officer, joining BMG topper Rolf Schmidt-Holtz in restructuring BMG before its merger with Sony Music in 2004.

At Sony BMG, Smellie oversaw the rapid merger of business units in 45 countries. He stepped down in December for personal reasons.