Exec will drive growth in Asian future markets.

Michael Smellie, one of the major architects of the Sony BMG merger, has taken an executive post with the company's joint-parent Bertelsmann AG.

The Australian-born executive, who controversially split with Sony BMG at the end of 2005, has been appointed to the new role as president of Asia Pacific media development for Bertelsmann.

Based in Peking, Smellie will be tasked with representing Bertelsmann's interests in Asia and supporting its corporate divisions in the acquisition and establishment of new businesses. In a statement issued today (April 18), the German media group said Smellie's remit will be targeted on "significantly accelerating Bertelsmann's growth in the Asian future markets," with initial focus on developing its activities in China.

"I am pleased that we have Michael Smellie, a successful Bertelsmann entrepreneur and outstanding expert for the Asian growth markets, on board to systematically and forcefully advance our business in this important region," comments Bertelsmann AG chairman/CEO Gunter Thielen, to whom Smellie will report.

Smellie joined Bertelsmann's record company BMG in 1993 as managing director of Australian operations. In 2001, he became COO of BMG in its New York office. He continued in the role when Bertelsmann merged BMG with Sony Corp's Sony Music.

He announced plans last summer to step down from the company citing "personal reasons," a move which contributed to an internal power struggle at the joint venture.

His resignation, when he was then the highest-ranking former BMG executive involved in the day-to-day operations of Sony BMG, came at a time when the company was still attempting to realize the full benefits of the merger.

Following his departure, former Sony BMG chairman Rolf Schmidt-Holtz traded seats with then-CEO Andrew Lack.

Tim Bowen was recently appointed to fill the position of Sony BMG COO left vacant since Smellie's departure on Dec. 31, 2005.