Updated below with Microsoft statement.
Ya-Qin Zhang, a Microsoft vice president who led the company’s Asia-Pacific R&D Group for seven years, has been hired away by China’s Baidu search company, according to the Wall Street Journal and South China Morning Post.
The move would be a blow to the company in China, where the company is the subject of a new antitrust investigation related to Windows and Internet Explorer.
Zhang has been at Microsoft since 2000, including a stint as the head of Microsoft’s Mobile and Embedded Devices Division from 2004-2006.
It’s the latest high-profile executive hire for Baidu. Hiring Zhang “appears to be part of efforts to beef up its senior management team as the company enters untapped markets and expands existing operations,” Ricky Lai, a research analyst at Guotai Junan International, tells the South China Morning Post.
Microsoft recently confirmed that its top executive Satya Nadella would be visiting China for the first time as CEO, a trip the company described as unrelated to the antitrust investigation.
Update, 12:45 p.m.: Microsoft issued this statement from S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft Global Development Centers: “I respect Ya-Qin’s decision to move on to follow personal interests after achieving his mission of building a world-class innovation powerhouse, an organization he has seen flourish, and I wish him all the best.”