Sony Music Australia CEO and chairman Denis Handlin departs company abruptly

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After more than 50 years, the CEO and chairman of Sony Music Australia, Denis Handlin, has abruptly left the company.

His shock departure was announced to staff in an email sent out on Monday, with reference to the company going in a “new direction”.

Sony Australia is currently making headlines over an investigation into workplace culture after a staff member from its Sydney office made a complaint, with allegations of bullying and harassment, reported The Sun-Herald.

An Australian-based external counsel has been appointed to investigate the claims.

There is no suggestion that Mr Handlin’s departure relates to the allegations being investigated.

Mr Handlin began his career in the mail room at Sony Music and is the company’s longest-serving employee globally after joining the organisation in 1970. He became CEO of the Australian operations in 1984.

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His departure, which is effective immediately, was announced by Sony Music’s global boss Rob Stringer in an internal email on Monday.

“It is time for a change in leadership and I will be making further announcements in terms of the new direction of our business in Australia and New Zealand in due course,” the note said.

He added: “My team and I will be speaking further to your team leaders about this process throughout the week, but at this point I wanted to let everyone know this news at the same time.”

Mr Handlin was thanked for his “extraordinary contribution” to the company in the email, where he has held the position of chairman since 1996.

During his time, he led the company into new areas such as video games, music publishing, DVDs, CD manufacturing, and television and content creation.

“Denis is renowned for his highly competitive spirit and his championing of local talent. Under his leadership, Australian artists such as Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, John Farnham, Daryl Braithwaite, Tina Arena, Delta Goodrem, Human Nature, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, David Campbell, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Gang of Youths and Ruel have achieved international recognition and success,” according to his company bio.

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In 2005, Mr Handlin was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of “service to the music industry, particularly through the promotion of Australian musicians, to professional organisations, and to the community through fundraising for charitable organisations”.

An influential figure in the Australian music industry, with a number of awards to his name, he has been married to his wife Jan since 1977 and they have six children together.

Mr Handlin has been a member of the board at the Australian Recording Industry Association since 1984 and chairman of the ARIA Board since 2010.

He is also a founding member of the Sony Foundation of Australia, which has raised over $31 million since 1998 for youth-based charitable causes.

Mr Handlin’s replacement has not yet been announced.

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