Marina Berlusconi, daughter of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been appointed president of Finvinvest film arm Medusa Film. The move at Italy's leading film production and distribution outfit, follows the death of Carlo Bernasconi last month.

"Marina Berlusconi's appointment to the head of the company is a strong sign of Fininvest's attention towards Medusa Film, which over the years has become a leading internationally-oriented company. It is also a sign of respect towards Carlo Bernasconi and the extremely close relationship he had with Silvio Berlusconi," Medusa spokesman Claudio Trionfera said.

Marina Berlusconi, 36, is the publicity-shy eldest child of Silvio Berlusconi, and is also vice-president of Fininvest, the publicly-traded family holding company. Known to be a strong supporter of international alliances, she is also a board member of venture capital group Benetton 21 Investimenti.

In a separate move, Fininvest promoted Medusa communications director Giampaolo Letta to the post of vice-president of the company. At the same time, Letta's father, Gianni, who is one of Silvio Berlusconi's closest allies, stepped down from the board, after being appointed Under Secretary to the Prime Minister, a post he also filled during Berlusconi's brief first term in office in 1994.

Medusa's board now comprises Marina Berlusconi, Giampaolo Letta, Alessandro Grimaldi - who becomes the president of the company's exhibition arm Medusa Cinema - Leonardo Brivio, Claudio Sposito, and Berlusconi's second child Piersilvio, who is also vice-president of Finvinvest's TV branch, Mediaset. Federico De Chio will continue in his role as managing director and board member.

Medusa is currently the number one distributor in Italy, with a 2000-2001market share of around 23% and BO takings of $86m (L190bn.The company's recently unveiled 2001-2002 line-up includes Gosford Park, Insomnia, High Crimes, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Mothman Prophecies and We Were Soldiers Once, And Young.