Microsoft (MSFT) says Timothy Chen has resigned as head of Microsoft Greater China Region and that the company has begun a global search for his successor.

"We wish to thank Tim for his contribution and service, and to wish him well in his future endeavors," said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International. "With the Microsoft Greater China leadership team, Tim helped achieve unprecedented business growth and also helped the company further its commitment to enabling sustainable social and economic development for people around the world. I'm confident that the solid foundation we've laid will not only help us continue our business success in the market, but will also further our collaboration with customers, partners and government."

In the interim, Ya-Qin Zhang, corporate vice president and chairman of Microsoft's China Research & Development Group, will lead the business as the region's acting chief executive officer. Zhang, who will retain his current duties overseeing an organization of 1,500 employees, will be supported by the Microsoft GCR leadership team, a group representing decades of industry leadership experience. Chen will reportedly assume a new leadership role outside of the IT industry.

Microsoft has a long history in China, where it opened its first office in 1992. During the past five years, Microsoft sales and revenue have grown more rapidly in the Greater China Region than in any other market in the world. During the same period, the company has more than doubled its employee base, for a total of more than 3,200 employees in 15 office locations across the region.

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