The long-in-the-works deal between DreamWorks and Mumbai-based media conglomerate Reliance closed today [September 19], paving the way for Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Stacey Snider to leave the Paramount fold following a difficult relationship.

Paramount waived any requirement for DreamWorks executives and staff to stay at its Melrose Avenue headquarters in a move that allowed Spielberg and his cohorts to begin their new life immediately. It remained unclear whether Geffen would stay at the new company, given his much publicised desire in recent years to exit the film business.

The new stand-along production entity plans to make six films a year and will need to find a distributor. Universal would appear to be a good fit considering Spielberg's close ties with that studio and indeed the film-maker kept his offices on the Universal lot after Paramount acquired DreamWorks in 2006.

Spielberg and Snider were spotted huddling over lunch last week with Universal chairman Ron Meyer and General Electric chief Jeffrey Immelt.

Paramount has ruled itself out of the running, although it remains contractually bound to release several DreamWorks films in the pipeline including the Transformers sequel.

A statement issued by Paramount earlier today said: 'We congratulate Steven, David and Stacey, and wish them well as they start their newest venture. Steven is one of the world's great story-tellers and a legend in the motion picture business.

'It has been an honour working closely with him and the DreamWorks team over the last three years and we expect to continue our successful collaboration with Steven in the future.'