In a surprise move, Vittorio Cecchi Gori has stepped down from day-to-day running of the Italian film and television company his father set up in the 1940s. The move marks the end of family management of the company, which Vittorio Cecchi Gori took over when his father Mario died in the 1990s.

In an interview with Milan daily Corriere della Sera, the maverick producer said that he will remain the president and owner of the company which is due to be floated on the Milan stock exchange by the end of the year. He denied that the company would be sold and said that his involvement in Stream, the digital television platform set up by Telecom Italia, in which Rupert Murdoch owns a 35% stake, is 'strategic'.

Cecchi Gori handed over daily operations in December to Marco Duradoni, who headed up and had a stake in Cecchi Gori Home Video. Duradoni is now managing director of the media group and is joined by finance and administration general manager Ermes Gnemmi.

'Vittorio Cecchi Gori is still head of the company and will remain that,' said Cecchi Gori spokesperson Lorenzo Scheggi. 'He has passed over the reins of the daily running of the company to Duradoni but will continue to make the key strategy decisions. This kind of thing happens all the time and many people will say it's about time that he has passed over those responsibilities to someone else so he can concentrate on the bigger picture.'

The Cecchi Gori family built the company into the most ambitious media independent in Italy, with interests in production, distribution, exhibition and broadcasting. It is the country's most prolific producer but most recently has seen its star dim with films by previous hitmakers such as Leonardo Pieraccioni performing below expectations. This has led to rumours that the company has been unable to shake off financial difficulties, a situation not aided by the reported problems Cecchi Gori has been having in finding investment partners in the company.

Moreover, the company recently lost one of its potential big hitters, The Talented Mr Ripley, to Miramax Films' new off-shoot in Italy. The film, which was shot in Italy, leads a slate of films including She's The One, In Too Deep, Down To You and Scream 3, to be released by Miramax and Buena Vista Italia. Miramax has passed physical distribution to Buena Vista Italia but will handle marketing, publicity and distribution itself.

The move comes on the back of Miramax's launch of its own production outpost in Italy, headed up by Fabrizio Lombardo, marking an increase in production and co-production activity in the country.