UK distributor Momentum Pictures has suspended managing director Xavier Marchand.

Former Sony executive Richard Napper has been appointed in his place on an interim basis with immediate effect while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

No specific reasons were given for Marchand's suspension, but a spokesperson from Momentum's parent company Alliance Atlantis Communications in Toronto, confirmed 'it was an appropriate and necessary form of action, while we review our operations across Europe.'

The move follows the announcement that CanWest Communications and Goldman Sachs have completed their takeover of Alliance Atlantis.

Reporting directly to the CEO, Napper's role will be to oversee all aspects of Momentum Pictures operations in the UK as well as directly overseeing operations of sister company Aurum Pictures in Spain. Napper was made redundant from his post as managing director for Sony Film Releasing (UK) last May.

'Richard has a vast amount of experience in marketing and distribution in the UK and thoroughly understands this market,' said John Bailey, CEO of Alliance Atlantis' Motion Picture Distribution. 'His knowledge and expertise are going to be of huge benefit to Momentum, Aurum and to all of us at Alliance Atlantis' Motion Picture Distribution.'

Napper added: 'I'm very pleased to join the Momentum team, and look forward to creating unique marketing and distribution strategies for our titles. We have a dynamic, energetic group who has a highly developed understanding of film distribution in this market.'

Momentum's forthcoming releases include Bobby, Amazing Grace, Arthur And The Invisibles, The Illusionist and Hannibal Rising.