Rick Senat, head of European business affairs for Warner Bros and a 24 year-old veteran of the studio, is to retire from the company at the end of the year to pursue independent entrepreneurial opportunities in the entertainment business. He will remain with Warner in an advisory capacity.

Senat's departure was announced by John Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel for Warner, in Los Angeles on Friday.

Senat joined Warner in 1977 and eventually ran the studio's business and legal affairs in Europe, supervising the acquisition of film projects - from all Stanley Kubrick's films in that period to Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone - and the establishment of new divisions such as Warner Bros Consumer Products and Warner Bros International Theatres.

"This is a milestone decision for me," he said. "I recently turned 50 and realised that I have spent close to half my natural life and almost all of my working life at Warner Bros. I cannot begin to describe what a privilege it has been to work for such a great company and to express how grateful I am for the marvellous times, the fine colleagues and friendships. But it is simply time to move on, to climb new mountains and to seek out different challenges."

He currently serves as deputy chairman of the British Film Institute and vice chairman of the European Film College in Berlin.