Universal Pictures International (UPI), the London-based international video distribution arm of Universal Pictures, has launched new video distribution operations covering Japan, Korea and Brazil, following the expiration of a CIC distribution agreement.

The local offices will focus on expanding the rental and home video sell-through markets, driven by DVD growth, as well as local acquisitions.

Bill Rahn heads up the Japanese operation as president of UPI Japan. Rahn retains his role of managing director, Universal Studios Consumer Products Group, Asia Pacific.

Overseeing the start-up in Korea is Chang Gon Kim, managing director, UPI Korea. He will also be responsible for developing children's genre titles, such as the Maisy II series.

Marc Caux has also been appointed managing director, UPI Brazil.

Peter Smith, president of UPI, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for us to develop these key markets under UPI's leadership, and to implement our strategic goals of strengthening the DVD sell-through and rental markets, and expanding local acquisitions."