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Microsoft Shakes up Management After China Exec's Sudden Departure

Microsoft named a new executive to head the company's Greater China region on Friday, following the sudden departure of the area's current leader.

Ralph Haupter, previously the area vice president for Microsoft Germany, will take over as CEO of Microsoft's Greater China region from Simon Leung, who had held the role since 2008. Leung could not be reached for comment, but a Microsoft statement said he had decided to leave for "personal and family reasons." He will stay on in an advisory role with Microsoft until August, the company said.

Leung had previously given no indication he was leaving the company, and made a public appearance last month to promote the launch of the Windows Phone 7 mobile OS in China. A week later, he spoke at a Nokia event to announce the company's Lumia phones in the country.

In his role as CEO for Microsoft's Greater China region, Leung oversaw efforts to fight software piracy and improve intellectual property rights protection. Leung had also been working with Chinese officials to eventually allow Microsoft's Xbox 360 to be sold in the country. Chinese law currently bans foreign companies from selling most video game systems.

Before joining Microsoft, Leung had previously served as a senior executive with Motorola.

Leung's replacement, Haupter, has worked at Microsoft for seven years. Before becoming area vice president for Microsoft Germany, he previously served as its COO. Haupter has also led its partner division for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Haupter will be moving to what research firm IDC says is now the world's largest PC market. But unlicensed software use there is high, with about 78 percent of the software installed on China's PCs pirated, according to a 2010 report from the Business Software Alliance.   

Microsoft has yet to name a replacement for Haupter as area vice president for Microsoft Germany.

Along with Haupter's transfer, Microsoft is also tapping managing director for Microsoft U.K., Gordon Frazer, to become COO for Microsoft's Greater China region. Frazer has served as the managing director for Microsoft U.K. for six years, and was previously the general manager for Microsoft South Africa.

The previous COO for Greater China, Michel van der Bel, will assume Frazer's role as managing director for Microsoft U.K. van der Bel has also been vice president of public sector for Microsoft International.

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