Pierre-Ange Le Pogam is understood to be leaving his position as Gaumont's worldwide distribution and marketing chief in the latest of a string of upheavals at the French film group.

News of Le Pogam's departure, coming on the eve of Gaumont's Vatel opening the Cannes Film Festival, follows hard on the heels of a number of disposals and talent departures that have left many in the French film industry puzzling over the long term direction of the French film major.

Disposals include the sale of Gaumont's recently launched Antwerp multiplex, as well as the sale of its two television production arms Gaumont Television and Gaumont Multimedia.

In terms of personnel, this year has already seen the departure of Hugo Bergson - head of Gaumont's sales outfit - and his replacement by Philippe Rostain. Meanwhile, Gaumont's close links with Luc Besson have loosened lately - Gaumont was not involved in the production or even the distribution of Besson produced hits Taxi 1 and 2.

This comes just as Gaumont has lost one of its two major inhouse producers, with the death of the veteran Alan Poire. All of the company's in-house production is now in the hands of Patrice Ledoux, producer of hit titles Les Visiteurs 1 and 2.

Although many of these disposals and departures may be unrelated, none of them suggest an expansionist mood at Gaumont. Gaumont sources say the company has decided to concentrate on its strengths: French exhibition and producing hit film titles. Observers are also predicting that Gaumont boss Nicolas Seydoux will soon unveil a restructure of the group to drive this vision forward.

Also worrying is the fact that, although the company generally has at least one title at the top of the charts each year, Gaumont has registered an alarming number of misses in the past two years. Furthermore, it registered a spectacular 42.6 % drop in net profit in 1999 down to Ffr58m, although revenue stayed stable at Ffr1.82bn.

Major upcoming Gaumont titles include the US set English-language spin off of The Visitors, a $50 million plus project being directed by Jean-Marie Poire and starring Christian Clavier and Jean Reno.