Universal Pictures is refusing to comment on speculation that former Fox executive vice-president of production Debbie Liebling may be about to join the studio as president of production.

The vacancy has existed since early October when Donna Langley was promoted to co-chairman alongside chairman Adam Fogelson in the wake of the departure of former incumbents Marc Shmuger and David Linde.

Liebling is understood to be departing Fox after Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman passed her over in favour of Emma Watts in mid-November. Liebling previously headed production at the ill-fated Fox Atomic, which folded last April.

These are heady times for Universal. The studio has gone through an annus horribilis at the North American box office and staff face the imminent arrival of a new corporate parent.

On Tuesday [December 1] it emerged that GE had agreed to purchase Vivendi’s 20% stake in NBC Universal for $5.8bn, which smoothes the way for Comcast to acquire the company in a deal that according to reports may be announced later today [December 3].