Charles Finch, head of motion pictures Europe, is amongst a string of departures at William Morris Agency (WMA)'s London office as the company closes UK theatrical activities.

Finch is expected to set up a London-based production management company with several WMA staff including former producer Luc Roeg. Finch's start-up operation is expected to share many clients with WMA - including John Malkovich and Cate Blanchett.

WMA's London arm, which will be headed by Stephanie Cabot, head of WMA's literary department in the UK, will continue literature and TV representation.

In all, some eight staff are understood to be affected, including about four who are expected to join Finch's production management outfit. Amongst the other departures is Steve Kenis, former managing director.

Agent Hans Schiff and senior executive Philip Adler will continue in the London office, while Tanya Cohen will move to WMA's Beverly Hills office. The move marks a U-turn at the London operation, where Finch was installed by former WMA chief Arnold Rifkin to compete directly with ICM's Duncan Heath. Ironically, Roeg was one of Finch's hires as the London arm aggressively expanded.

But a cut in activities and staff has been anticipated since last September, when newly-installed WMA president and co-CEO Jim Wiatt began making large-scale staff cuts at the Beverly Hills and New York offices. In December, Sue Latimer, head of talent at the London office, left to join rival UK agency Curtis Brown.

Finch's move also marks the continued rise of management ventures, which recently found their most high-profile exponent in Michael Ovitz's Artists Management Group. Ovitz's foray into the sector sparked a bitter fight with his former agency Creative Artists Agency, which declared it would not share clients with AMG.