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Microsoft adds dealmaker to top management team

Richard Emerson, former managing director at investment bank Lazard Freres, will lead the software giant's corporate development activities, including mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

Microsoft has added a seasoned dealmaker to its top management team to head up investments and acquisitions.

Richard Emerson, former managing director at international investment bank Lazard Freres, has joined the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant as senior vice president of corporate development and strategy, Microsoft said Thursday.

Emerson, who was also co-head of technology and telecommunications advisory services at Lazard, will lead Microsoft's corporate development activities, including mergers, acquisitions and partnerships, Microsoft said in a statement. Microsoft did not specify when Emerson began his new role at the company.

Microsoft has been actively investing in companies and has made several acquisitions in high-growth areas such as streaming media, application hosting and business-to-business e-commerce in hopes of raising the bar in the tightly competitive markets.

In September, Microsoft, which has been fighting aggressively against such companies as RealNetworks to gain the upper hand in the streaming media market with the Windows Media Player, bought MongoMusic, an online service with advanced music-searching capabilities.

The giant has also invested in application hosting players including Corio, FutureLink and MarchFirst (formerly USWeb/CKS) in an effort to tap the lucrative market for software rentals.

Emerson, 38, has provided advice on a string of high-profile transactions. He advised SBC Communications about the company's wireless joint venture with BellSouth and about its acquisition of Sterling Commerce, and he counseled MCI about many of its strategic initiatives including its announced merger with British Telecommunications and the later sale of MCI to WorldCom.

Other software companies are also adding big names to their executive rosters. Earlier this week, rival Oracle hired former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart as its top communications executive. The former assistant to President Clinton will initially focus on refining and communicating Oracle's business strategy.

During Emerson's more than 12 years in the industry, he has worked for investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and for Lazard's New York and San Francisco offices, at one point co-leading Lazard's San Francisco office. He specialized in advising technology and telecom clients on strategic transactions and partnerships.

"His relationships and expertise negotiating major transactions across the industry will be great assets to Microsoft as we continue working to cultivate strategic business partnerships and make investments that help to bring better products to customers," Microsoft chief financial officer John Connors said in a statement.