Sony Music Australia's longtime chief Denis Handlin has been appointed chairman of ARIA, Billboard.biz has learned.

With the ARIA Awards looming, the trade association has moved quickly to slot Handlin into a role recently abdicated by Ed St John, the former Warner Music Australasia president and CEO. St John was shunted from his job with Warner Music earlier this month, and soon after announced his resignation from ARIA.

Handlin's appointment at ARIA is something of a no-brainer. The Sony Music Australasia chairman and CEO served as ARIA chairman for an unprecedented 10 successive years until 2008, at which point he made way for St John.

In a statement to be issued Thursday (Sept. 23), Handlin explains that government relations will be high on the agenda, "particularly the ongoing and serious challenge of illegal file sharing and its impact on the industry."

The ARIA Awards committee will have its hands full in the coming weeks. The flagship ARIA Awards will take place Nov. 7 at the Sydney Opera House, and will be preceded by a string of events including the Hall of Fame and the ARIA Fine Arts Awards.

Handlin is the longest-serving member of the ARIA Board, his presence with the association dating back to 1984. While at the helm, the Sydney-based exec is widely credited with galvanizing ARIA and strengthening the brand of the weekly sales charts. Under his guidance, the trade body launched the No. 1 Chart Awards and Fine Arts Awards to increase the profile of domestic acts, and established the Hall of Fame as a stand-alone function in 2004.

Handlin is also a founding member of the Sony Foundation, which was has raised more than $13 million Australian ($12.4 million) for charitable causes since 1998, and was awarded an Order of Australia medal for services to the Australian music industry in 2005. Last year, Handlin was the recipient of the APRA Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music. This year marks his 40th anniversary with Sony Music.

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