David Snell, former managing director of EMI Music Australia and chairman of EMI Australasia, has passed away after a 16-month fight with pancreatic cancer at the age of 72.

The executive took the reigns of EMI's Australian affiliate in 1986 after transferring from EMI Music New Zealand, where he had served as managing director since 1980. He joined the New Zealand company back in 1970 in its technical division.

In Australia, Snell took control of a company that had fallen into the red. He turned that around in his first year at the helm, and promptly drove the company's domestic market share north.

During his 12-year stint at the helm of the Australian company, Snell
pioneered the use of joint ventures for manufacturing and distribution. He played a leading role in the creation and management of EMI's local distribution joint venture with Sony Music EDC, and a manufacturing operation DATA, which he helped set up in 1994 as a joint venture with Warner.

Snell also served as chairman of labels body ARIA from 1992 until he retired in 1998. He held the ARIA chairmanship during a fierce battle with the Australian government over the relaxing of parallel-import restrictions.

"That issue lasted longer than World War II," he remarked during an interview with Billboard in the late 1990s.

Snell died on March 24, but the news has only just come to light. He leaves behind his partner Rosemary, two children and six grandchildren.