Company may focus more on production

LONDON — Aviv Giladi has been tapped as CEO of Access Industries’ Icon U.K. Group.

The appointment, which is effective immediately, will see Giladi oversee Icon U.K.’s entire operations, including its Brit distribution arm, Icon Film Distribution, Icon Home Entertainment, international sales arm Icon Entertainment Intl. and London-based Majestic Films and Television.

Giladi’s appointment is expected to herald Icon’s shift toward a more production focused business, which will aim to finance projects sitting around the $15 million to $20 million mark.

Sources indicate that the group is currently in talks to back Paul Greengrass’ upcoming project “Memphis,” about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, which Universal Pictures dropped earlier this year.

Giladi is currently chairman of Israeli media group R.G.E. Group, which specializes in a variety of content and production activities, and produces and operates TV channels in Israel. He controls 33% of the company, alongside Access Industries’ Russian billionaire owner Len Blavatnik, who also has a 33% stake in R.G.E.

Giladi also sits on the board of Ealing Studios, in which he serves as non-executive director.

The appointment comes in the light of a series of changes expected to unfold over the upcoming months with Icon U.K’s strained business.

In October, Variety reported that Blighty’s film biz had been abuzz with reports that Access, which bought Icon’s U.K. operations two years ago, was shopping the company’s U.K. library to potential buyers following the distrib’s recent weak performance in the market (Weekly Variety, Oct. 29).

It is believed that Giladi has been one of the key figures, along with Access’ European Counsel Thomas Harding, behind managing the potential sale of Icon’s U.K. library to buyers.

As recently as a few weeks ago, this U.K. library was still being shopped to buyers with Access showing interest in selling this fraction of the biz if the price was right.

While Giladi’s appointment is positive in a sense that it seems there is movement and direction happening within the group, it is still unclear what will happen to the group’s Brit distrib arm and equally unclear as to what will happen to the positions of joint managing directors Hugo Grumbar and Ian Dawson.

Sources indicate that, so far, no one has yet ankled the company, but as is typical when gears shift within a company, there may be casualties.

Further changes are expected to be announced within the company soon.

Blavatnik’s Access Industries purchased Icon U.K. Group in November 2009 and placed former PolyGram and UIP topper Stewart Till at the helm.

Till’s intention to set up Icon as an international distribution network was thwarted when he could not find suitable acquisitions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany at a realistic price.

In November 2010, Till sidestepped to chairman of Icon, and Grumbar and Dawson stepped up to the plate managing the international sales division and U.K. operation respectively.

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