Resignation follows wave of departures at Vivendi-owned umbrella group, Canal Plus Group.

Studiocanal COO Romain Bessi has resigned from his role at the Paris-based film and TV production/distribution company, with his departure taking effect as of July.

A spokesperson at Studiocanal confirmed Bessi’s departure but did not give any further details on who would replace the executive.

Bessi’s resignation is the first major departure from Studiocanal since its former chairman and CEO Olivier Courson was let go in September 2015, to be replaced by Didier Lupfer.

Studiocanal is regarded as the success story of the Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group, unlike ailing sister entity, French pay-TV channel Canal+.

Bessi joined the Canal Plus Group in 1997 to work as a management controller for pay-TV channel Canal+, before being appointed as financial director of Sport+ and taking control of international negotiations for sports rights.

After stints as financial director at Canal+ Nordic, Canal+ SA and Canal+ Group Edition, he segued over into Studiocanal in 2007, at first as EVP for administration, finance and technical, adding strategy in 2010.

In March 2014, he was promoted to COO in a position which also made him responsible for all TV series activities. He played a key role in the acquisitions of Tandem in Germany and RED in the UK.

Bolloré shake-up

Bessi’s departure comes amid an on-going shake-up across the entire Canal Plus Group, instigated by billionaire industrialist Vincent Bolloré who took control of the group after becoming the majority shareholder of its parent company Vivendi in 2015.

In the first few months of his reign, he fired Canal Plus Group chairman Bertrand Meheut, CEO Rodolphe Belmer, followed by Canal+ head of cinema Nathalie Coste-Cerdan.

More recently, former head of cinema Manuel Alduy who left the post to set up Canal OTT in 2014, to set up new digital streaming services such as Canalplay, has also departed the group.

The shake-up has been prompted by Bolloré’s twin ambitions of restructuring ailing pay-TV channel Canal+ in the face of falling subscribers and rising costs while integrating the entire Canal Plus Group into a larger Europe-biased content production and distribution entity under the Vivendi banner, on a par with the US studios and rising Asian players.