Microsoft CEO says concerned about Europe contagion
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said there are concerns that a debt crisis in the euro zone will not be restricted to the region.
Ballmer, who is on an Asian visit, also spoke on Wednesday about the management shuffle within the company that will include the retirement of Robbie Bach, the company's video games and mobile phones unit head.
"Robbie has been thinking about the possibility of retiring and spending more time with his family. He and I thought on whether we should go ahead and announce that now or wait until after Christmas," Ballmer said.
"In the consumer business it has to be way before Christmas or way after Christmas ... I'm happy to make the transition and announce it now."
The retirement of Bach, the 22-year veteran, credited with launching the Xbox in 2001, comes as the world's largest software maker and its mobile efforts are being brushed aside by Apple Inc's iPhone and Google Inc's Android operating system in a fast-growing, but increasingly crowded smartphone market.
"Robbie has interests that he wants to pursue and I wish him well on that," Ballmer said.
On Europe, Ballmer said the problems in the euro zone may not be limited to that region because the world economy is interconnected.
"I think we all do understand that the world economy is very linked and everybody is nervous that any problems that we might see in Greece (and) Europe will not be isolated in Europe," he said.
His remarks follow comments from the company's Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein earlier this month that Microsoft was expecting a boost this quarter from a rebound in business tech spending, which would likely outweigh the negative impact from turmoil in Europe.
"Before the Greek issue everyone has been saying they are more and more cautiously optimistic," Ballmer told journalists on the sidelines of a Microsoft event in Singapore.
Governments across the globe are assessing the potential fallout from a debt crisis in Europe.
When asked about his views on the business and security environment in China after Google's withdrawal from the market there, Ballmer said Google's move was due to censorship rather than security issues.
In March, Google closed its China-based search service and began redirecting Web searchers to an uncensored portal in Hong Kong, drawing harsh comments from Beijing that raised doubts about the company's future in the world's largest Internet market.
"The reason that Google withdrew from China has nothing to do with security. There are hackers around the world, there are hackers in every country. You cannot say 'I cannot do business in some countries because there are some hackers who live here,'" he said.
Microsoft has said it remains committed to China even after Google's decision to retreat because of censorship.
Ballmer added that countries such as India and Indonesia have become more attractive compared with China to Microsoft because of better intellectual property protection.
(Reporting by Harry Suhartono; Editing by Dhara Ranasinghe and Maureen Bavdek)
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