Virgin Music U.K. managing director Philippe Ascoli is returning to his native France to establish a new joint-venture label.

Virgin Music U.K. managing director Philippe Ascoli is returning to his native France to establish a new joint-venture label.

Ascoli will shortly relocate to Paris to set up the label, which will be structured as a 50/50 joint-venture with himself and EMI Music France.

The as-yet-unnamed label will tap the marketing, distribution and backroom support resources of EMI Music France. In his new role, Ascoli will work closely with EMI Music Continental Europe chairman/CEO Jean-Francois Cecillon.

Cecillon says the label's brief is to deliver diversity and hits. "Philippe deserves to be given the freedom to look around in every possible genre. We need [the label] to be visible, to be in the charts and have artists of great quality," Cecillon tells Billboard.biz.

Separately, Ascoli has been appointed senior creative advisor to Cecillon across continental Europe. "Philippe is one of the few guys who has worked in France and the United Kingdom, and knows very well the two most sophisticated creative markets in Europe. He understands the creative pressure, the creative challenges that we are facing as an industry," Cecillon explains.

Ascoli began his career in 1989 at Polydor France, where he signed rapper MC Solaar. He became head of A&R for Virgin France in 1992 and founded Source France in 1995, where he signed leading local acts Air, Phoenix and Saian Supa Crew.

After relocating to London in November 1998, Ascoli founded Source U.K.; he added stripes as VP of A&R for Virgin U.K. in October 2001. In January 2002, he was named MD of Virgin U.K. where he signed Kelis and the Thrills. He was also a vital player in the joint-venture with Relentless and Virgin U.K., which resulted in the British campaigns for Joss Stone and KT Tunstall.

EMI Music U.K. will unveil his successor at Virgin in due course.

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