Diskery veteran Ashley Newton has been named president of Sony Music Entertainment’s Columbia Records Group.

The appointment of Newton, previously exec veepee of A&R at RCA, was announced by Columbia co-chairmen Steve Barnett and Rick Rubin.

At RCA, Newton worked with such top-selling acts as Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Daughtry, Ray LaMontagne, Velvet Revolver plus David Cook and Adam Lambert of “American Idol.”

He was formerly co-president of Virgin Records America and senior VP of A&R for Virgin Music Group Worldwide after serving as co-managing director of Virgin Records U.K. and co-owner of venture label Circa Records.

At Virgin, Newton signed and developed the Spice Girls, Massive Attack, Everything but the Girl, the Chemical Brothers, Shaggy and Neneh Cherry. He also worked with Janet Jackson, Gorillaz, Peter Gabriel, the Verve, Smashing Pumpkins and Soul II Soul, among others.

He began his career under Chris Blackwell at Island Records in London.