Australia's top sales agent Gary Hamilton is to leave Sydney and relocate to London where he will set up a UK arm of his successful sales and production outfit Arclight Films. Hamilton said that he will be installed in London before Christmas this year.

Arclight will retain its Sydney office for marketing, delivery, legal, post-production and development functions, but Hamilton's departure represents a blow to the Australian industry where Hamilton has been a fixture for the last 12 years. The company has put together a high-powered slate here including The Matador with Pierce Brosnan, Crash with Heath Ledger, Head In The Clouds with Charlize Theron and The Merchant Of Venice with Al Pacino.

'It suits me better to be in London,' said Hamilton yesterday. 'All my major clients are an-hour-and-a-half from London and the projects we're developing as producers and sales agents are coming out of Europe like Head In The Clouds and The Merchant Of Venice.' Hamilton added that the London base makes sense for Arclight's close relationship with The Spice Factory and for access to tax benefits booming in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe. 'It's an exciting part of the world,' he added.

Hamilton lived in London for seven years in the 80s working for the Australian Film Commission before returning to Australia to start Beyond Films in 1991. When he left Beyond to establish Arclight, Beyond hired another London-based seller Hilary Davis to head up its sales operations.

Hamilton said that with Nicolas Chartier now established for Arclight in Los Angeles, Bey Logan and Lina Marrone consulting for the company in Hong Kong and Toronto respectively and offices in London and Sydney, the company now has 'unique coverage of the world.'

'I will continue to travel to Australia and our plans are still to persist with a fund there, but my home will be London,' said Hamilton. 'But the Australian business is in a slump at present and Hong Kong is more important to us for accessing product than Australia in that part of the world.'

He said that the London operation would initially focus on sales and acquisitions with production on the agenda for a later date.