Intermedia co-chiefs Guy East and Nigel Sinclair are understood be leaving the indie powerhouse they co-founded, taking the first opportunity to cash in their shares following the company’s flotation.

The two executives, who are currently negotiating their exits, could earn up to $60 million each before any deductions by selling their shares, which amount to approximately 25% of the company between them and their families. The duo agreed to a lock-up period of 18 months when the company floated on Frankfurt’s Neuer Markt in May 1999.

Intermedia is still $191 million short of its staggering sales target of $312 million for the year, a goal that will be crucial in protecting the company’s share price. The company has said it is on target and expects a string of large-scale titles to be delivered in the final quarter as the threat of the US actors strike skewed production towards the first half of the year. Those titles include Plague Season and K:19 - The Widowmaker.

Intermedia representatives in London were not available, while Los Angeles had no comment. But sources pointed out that the company has recently beefed up its top-level executives. Most recently, Jon Gumpert, formerly executive vice president of Universal Pictures, joined the company as US-based vice chairman of Intermedia Film Equities USA.

Gumpert’s role includes orchestrating the split-rights deals with US studios that Intermedia has been increasingly focused on in the drive for big-budget, star-laden pictures. While at Universal, Gumpert was in a similar role, negotiating the sale of rights to studio titles such as American Pie, U-571 and K-Pax, the last of which went to Intermedia.

London-based East in particular appears to have been sidelined since the international distribution department under president of worldwide distribution and acquisitions Jere Hausfater moved to Los Angeles. East is one of the architects of the international sales business: after high-profile stints at Carolco and Goldcrest, he ran the hugely successful Majestic Films & Television before selling it off and founding Intermedia with entertainment lawyer Sinclair.

Mortiz Bormann, joint head of Intermedia after the company merged with his US-based Pacifica, remains the single largest shareholder in the company with more than 25%.

Intermedia shares, which have weathered the turbulent Neuer Markt better than most stocks, are at Euros 23 each, compared to a 52 week high of Euros 44 and a low of Euros 14.5.

The company is embarking on its biggest ever picture next year in Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines which is being co-produced by Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna’s C-2 Pictures. T3, which will star Arnold Schwarzenegger, is said to be budgeted at around $170m; Warner Bros is pitching in $50m for domestic rights, but many are sceptical that Intermedia will be able to raise the remainder from international territories.