Sony BMG's management has set June 30, 2005, as the deadline for the full integration of the merged companies.

Sony BMG's management has set June 30, 2005, as the deadline for the full integration of the merged companies.

Sony BMG COO Michael Smellie tells Billboard.biz, "It is realistic to think that by June 30 of next year, we will have completed the integration, but we expect a great lot to be done by the end of this year."

Smellie says he anticipates that at least 60% of the restructuring will be completed by the end of 2004. "It is going to take more time in some countries," he explains. "We also have a lot of systems to integrate, and that's going to take time. In the U.S., we have to move all our operations into [Sony's New York headquarters at] 550 Madison. We have some 55 business centers, and so far, we have only dealt with 15."

Smellie would not elaborate on the potential number of job losses, but it is anticipated that the merger will result in more than 2,000 cuts. "That's the number Andrew [Lack, Sony BMG president/CEO] has been using," says Smellie, "but we haven't sat down and looked at it country-by-country."

Smellie, who is also overseeing Sony BMG's international operations, announced this week its upper-tier management for the territories outside the United States.

Tim Bowen will oversee the company's businesses in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; Maarten Steinkamp is in charge of Sony BMG Continental Europe; Richard Denekamp will head Sony BMG Asia; and Frank J. Welzer takes the reins at Sony BMG Latin.

Smellie says their immediate task will be to appoint the top management in each territory and then to oversee the integration process.

Smellie says he expects appointments in selected territories to be announced shortly.