Frederic Sichler will take over as CEO of StudioCanal, European the film production and distribution division of Vivendi Universal, it was announced on Friday. He starts on Monday (Feb 3).

The announcement follows weeks of speculation about a replacement for exiting president Richard Lenormand. Since late December, Lenormand has been rumoured to be stepping down but there had been no official word until now and in recent weeks appeared to be holding on for better exit terms.

Sichler, who joins from Euripide Productions where he was CEO, steps into a cauldron of fear and speculation as StudioCanal tightens retreats from its European ambitions and staff brace themselves for layoffs that may reduce the size of the firm by half.

Sichler was educated at one of traditional schools for civil service and private sector high fliers, the Ecole Polytechnique, and holds a postgraduate degree in economics. Both Lenormand and his predecessor, Vincent Grimond, also had heavily financial backgrounds.

Prior to Euripide, Sichler spent 10 years at classical music label Erato where he was chairman and CEO.