As many as 150 EMI Music employees in Southeast Asian territories stand to lose their jobs following the recently signed deal whereby Warner Music Group will market and distribute EMI's worldwide repertoire in the region, local industry insiders tell Billboard.

However, says Warner Music Southeast Asia president Lachie Rutherford, "In some instances we're taking the opportunity to bring some talented people [from EMI] into the organization."

In the case of EMI Music Malaysia, for example, all staff, with the exception of sales and strategic marketing director Herman Cheng and about five others will be let go at the end of September, according to local biz sources. Cheng is expected to be appointed GM of Warner Music Malaysia. Compensation terms have not been disclosed.

Under the multi-year license agreement, Warner will market and distribute EMI's worldwide repertoire in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and Thailand.

Rutherford adds that Warner will oversee all aspects of local and regional digital deals involving EMI acts, while EMI will maintain control of deals involving global partners such as YouTube in the region.

Although EMI has been active in the region for decades, its local-talent roster has been relatively thin, apart from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Rutherford says Warner will take over marketing and distribution of major EMI Malaysia acts such as female vocalist Ella, who at her peak in the Nineties sold upwards of 300,000 units per release. She remains the best-selling female solo artist with her 1994 album, "ELLA U.S.A.", which topped the 350,000 units mark, a record which remains unbroken.

Meanwhile, a regional label source says EMI is in the process of selling its local Indonesian catalog to an unnamed third party.

"International artists and management are very confused" about the deal, says one regional management source. "The other key point is how Warner is going to prioritize what to promote. Surely, they're going to look after No. 1 - meaning their own product?"

Adrian Cheesley, London-based EMI Music president for Asia Pacific/Latin America, said in a statement: "EMI releases albums from other record companies, including Warner Music, in various countries around the world. This works very well for all sides. In SE Asia, our regional marketing team in Hong Kong and global marketing team based in London will be working closely with Lachie's excellent team to oversee the local marketing of EMI's artists' music in the region."

Additional reporting by Christie Leo, Kuala Lumpur