Paramount Vantage president Nick Meyer is leaving the company and executive vice president of production and acquisitions Guy Stodel will step in as the division shifts its focus to acquisitions and international productions.

The shock departure comes as part of sweeping cuts across the Paramount fold announced earlier in the day [December 4] by studio chairman and CEO Brad Grey, spurred by a broader initiative to cut 7% of jobs across parent company Viacom.

Stodel, who arrived in July following the demise of New Line Cinema, where he served as senior vice president of acquisitions and co-production, will report to Paramount Film Group president John Lesher.

Meyer was named sole president of Paramount Vantage in January after Lesher's promotion to his current post. A much admired executive and former head of Lionsgate International, Meyer joined Vantage as co-president alongside Lesher in 2007.

Meyer is believed to have two and a half years remaining on his contract and insiders speculated that his departure was a political move following a string of duds for Vantage at the box office this year, among them How She Move, Son Of Rambow, American Teen and The Foot Fist Way.

Paramount sources said Stodel was not replacing Meyer but did not elaborate on whether he would assume the title of president.

The international sales division of the company which was started by Meyer with Alex Walton at the helm will continue to operate, and has more than a year to run on its contract to sell product from Overture Films.

It remained unclear whether there would be further cuts from Vantage as personnel across Paramount in IT, business and legal affairs, accounting, corporate and government affairs, home entertainment, human resources, production and studio lot operations faced the axe.

The news comes as Universal Pictures chiefs Marc Shmuger and David Linde said that 3% or approximately 70 staff would be leaving Universal as part of a 500-strong cull at NBC Universal.