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Warner Bros. Records CEO steps down

AOL Time Warner subsidiary Warner Music Group says the chief executive of the Warner Bros. label is stepping down.

AOL Time Warner subsidiary Warner Music Group said Wednesday that the chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros. Records is stepping down.

Warner Music said Russ Thyret, who has held that position since August 1995, is leaving the company effective immediately. Phil Quartararo, Warner Bros. Records' president, will take over the daily responsibilities of the company's operations.

The announcement comes in the wake of the completion of AOL Time Warner's $106 billion merger, a deal that has led to several management changes at the combined company.

Among other adjustments, the combined company picked former BMG Entertainment executive Kevin Conroy to head America Online's Net music initiatives, although that move did not change the reporting structure at Warner Music or Warner Bros. Records.

Before beginning his career with Warner Bros. Records in 1971, Thyret was a sales representative in the Los Angeles branch for WEA, Warner Music's U.S. distribution company.

"My strongest ambition has always been to serve (Warner Music) artists well, and I leave Warner Bros. hoping I've accomplished that," Thyret said in a statement. "I was in awe of Warner Bros. Records the first day I walked in the door, and in so many ways, I leave even more in awe. It will forever be a magical memory."

Thyret decided to depart "to spend more time with his wife and family," said Warner spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg. "There's nothing planned right now as far as going on to something else and starting his own record label."

In January, AOL Time Warner said it would lay off about 2,000 employees, bringing total cuts at the newly merged company to 2,400. The epicenters of layoffs were mostly in areas of high overlap, including the online efforts of AOL Time Warner's many divisions.

Warner Music Group cut 600 jobs worldwide while Time Inc.'s publishing unit cut 400, and the movie and TV studio Warner Bros. slashed 100 jobs through staff cuts at Entertaindom. At the company's AOL division, 725 jobs were eliminated.

The company said the cuts were meant to strip away redundancies and streamline operations as part of a plan to save $1 billion during the first year of the merger.