Mark Woods, an expatriate Irishman based for many years in Australia is being strongly tipped as the new CEO of the Irish Film Board following Rod Stoneman's departure in September.

However, a spokesperson for the Irish Film Board has refused to give air to the unofficial news, which has had growing currency among the Irish film production fraternity over the last week.

"The Irish Film Board is making no comment on the appointment of a new CEO at this stage. An official statement will be released when an appointment is made."

Wood himself also refused to comment when contacted by Screen Daily.

Appointments at this level within the Irish public service have to receive official sanction from the Department of Finance. This process can take several weeks thereby delaying the ratification of new appointees who, although they have been offered the posts, are obliged to wait silently in limbo for a rubber stamp from an authority higher than the one appointing them.

Woods is a former executive at Australia's Premier Movie Partnership (PMP). He joined PMP in November 2000 after working for six years as a trade journalist and critic for numerous publications.

PMP operates the Showtime and Encore movie channels in Australia and is owned by a US consortium of Twentieth Fox, Columbia TriStar, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures and Liberty Media.

Under Australian broadcasting legislation PMP is required to invest in local production, its initial policy having been to spread its net wide in lower budget productions. Woods, as acquisitions and investment manager, was responsible for investment in Australian independent movies together with PMP's head of business development and investment.

He left PMP when the business was restructured earlier this year. Woods (32) is Irish-born and a graduate of the University of Sydney.