The appointments of MarcShmuger (pictured) to chairman and David Linde to co-chairman of Universal Studios weremade official with an announcement this morning after days of media speculationin the US.

The news came just two weeksafter the former chairman Stacey Snider left Universal after nine years to joinParamount-based DreamWorks as co-chairman and CEO.

The Shmuger and Lindeappointments had been expected, as Universal president and COO Ron Meyer mulledover his options in the last fortnight, with other names such as Scott Stuber,the former head of production at Universal, and Bonnie Hammer, the head ofSci-Fi Channel and USA Network, also quoted as possible Meyer candidates.

Shmuger was previously vicechairman of Universal Pictures since 2000, while Linde was co-president ofFocus Features and president of Rogue Pictures, the specialty film labels ofUniversal, since 2002.

In their new roles, Shmugerand Linde will oversee the domestic and international business units ofUniversal Pictures, Focus and Rogue and Universal Studios Home Entertainment,including production, distribution, marketing, legal and business affairs,acquisitions, consumer products, corporate partnerships, strategic planning andfinance.

"I'm confident thatMarc and David will have an extraordinary partnership," said Meyer in astatement. "Marc has been a critical part of our team since joining thecompany in 1998, and he led our global marketing and distribution effortsduring our most successful years.Universal had its most profitable yearever in 2005 due in no small part to Marc, whose impact on this company hasbeen the foundation for its unique culture and its far-rangingachievements. His passions and instincts inspire both his colleagues andthe creative community, and I am pleased to acknowledge his talent andcommitment."

"David has demonstratedtremendous leadership as he has built Focus Features into a first-rankproduction and distribution company that is known as much for its ability togarner accolades as it is for its breakout box office successes," he added."His combination of strengths is unique in that he has been able to attractexceptional creative talent in a specialty film environment and at the sametime is revered in the global sales and distribution community for his tasteand acumen. I know that he will make even bigger contributions in his newrole, and I am delighted that we'll benefit from his partnership withMarc."

"I am grateful andexcited to be given this new challenge, and I couldn't be more pleased thatI'll be working side by side with David," said Shmuger. "I have everyconfidence that we can build on what Universal is already known for - a studiocommitted to a deep respect for the creative process, and a place whereinnovation drives not only the movies we make, but every discipline in ourbusiness. On all fronts, in every aspect of our worldwide operations, we havethe best team in the business and I can't wait to get to work."

"This is an amazingopportunity to work with the most talented group of people," said Linde. "WhenUniversal is committed to something, the whole corporate culture pulls togetherto create success. I've enjoyed a tremendous run at Focus with my partnerJames Schamus and the entire Focus/Rogue team, and I look forward to continueworking with them in my new role. I'm thrilled to work along side Marc at thisextraordinary company."

Linde will start to spend more time in Los Angeles immediately and estimates that he will be relocated by August. Schamus, who will remain sole president of Focus, issued a statement: "For ten years, I've tried to figure out the best way to dissolve my partnership with David, and I finally found the perfect way - they make him my boss!" he laughed. "David is simply the best executive and best colleague I've ever worked with, and he and Marc are going to be the most formidable team in the business. And while everyone at Focus and Rogue will miss having David all to ourselves, he'll remain a vital force here. At a company so finely-tuned, his transition will be seamless. So good-bye David and hello boss!".

Before serving as vicechairman at Universal Pictures, Shmuger was president of marketing at thestudio from May 1998 to Dec 2000.

Linde of course comes froman international background, working in acquisitions, then international salesat Miramax Films from 1991 to 1996, then joining Good Machine Inc as a partnerand president of Good Machine International in Jan 1997. He and Schamus thenheaded Focus Features when Good Machine was bought by Universal in 2002 andturned into Universal's specialty distribution division. Meanwhile Rogue wasformed in March 2004 as the genre label of first Focus, and then Universalitself.