Christian Grass, London-based executive vice president at Fox International, is leaving to take on the key international production job at Universal Pictures.

The move reunites Grass with his old Miramax International boss David Linde, who was named co-chairman of Universal Studios in March last year.

Neither Grass nor Universal would comment on the impending appointment today, but news of the move was already spreading as Berlin came to an end last week.

A spokesperson for Fox in Los Angeles was unavailable for comment.

The job is expected to give Grass control over all local and international production outside North America and the UK, and is a clear sign of Universal's aggressive move into localised film production to feed its new standalone UPI structure.

Universal recently restructured its global acquisitions operation to increase the supply of product into UPI under senior vice president and general manager of worldwide acquisitions Jason Resnick.

Linde and chairman Marc Shmuger have been pursuing a clear global strategy since they took control.

Speaking at Screen International's European Film Finance Summit in Berlin earlier this month, Linde talked about the studio's aim to tap into an 'explosion of creativity' in markets across the world.

Key to that approach is collaboration with local producers, with Universal finding, supporting and distributing international talent.

'Audiences are hardly asking for more (movies) from America. Films are made everywhere, set everywhere and tell stories about people everywhere,' said Linde.

At Fox, Grass has been executive vice president, EMEA, since 2004, and he has not only been in charge of theatrical distribution, sales and marketing operations but has also overseen of European co-productions and acquisitions as part of a strategy to support local language films around the world.

Speaking to Screen last year, Linde and Schmuger said that developing local language productions, which Universal had never pursued as aggressively as other studios like Warner Bros and Sony, was going to become a priority.

Grass began his relationship with Linde in 1994 when he left CineVox Entertainment Group and moved to New York to take up the job of vice president of international marketing at Miramax International under Linde and the division's then president Ian Jessel.

He rose to executive vice president at the company, working with Linde and Rick
Sands until 1996 when he moved back to Europe for Fox.