Microsoft’s Leung Quits as Head of China, Prompting Reshuffle

Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest software maker, reshuffled top executives at its European and Chinese operations, after the company said Simon Leung quit as chief executive of the greater China region.

Leung is leaving for “personal and family reasons,” and will be replaced by Ralph Haupter, currently vice-president at Microsoft Germany, the company said in a statement today. Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft U.K., will take over as chief operating officer for greater China from Michel van der Bel, who is moving into Frazer’s U.K. role, it said.

Haupter, a former executive at International Business Machines Corp., will lead Microsoft’s efforts to combat software piracy and boost sales of Windows Phone smartphones in China, the world’s second-biggest economy. Almost four out of five computer programs used in China are pirated, according to data from the Business Software Alliance.

“China represents an unprecedented opportunity for growth across the breadth of our business,” Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said in the statement. Haupter will report to Courtois, Microsoft said.

Leung will leave his position at the end of the month, and will serve as an adviser until August, Charles Shen, a Microsoft spokesman in Beijing, said by telephone today.

The percentage of software in China that is pirated dropped to 78 percent in 2010, the Business Software Alliance said in its annual report in May last year. The annual commercial value of software pirated in the country was $7.78 billion, according to the group.

The greater China region covers mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, according to Microsoft.

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