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Regency toppers poised to exit by year’s end

Pair have jointly run Fox-based company since 2008

In a surprise move, word surfaced late Wednesday that New Regency co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker are poised to ankle the 20th Century Fox-based company, likely by the end of the year.

Some of Regency’s employees were alerted to the pending change late Wednesday, according to a source.

Harper, formerly a longtime Fox exec, has been at the helm of Arnon Milchan’s New Regency since 2007; Parker joined him as co-chairman in May 2008 after leaving his post as vice chairman of 20th Century Fox Film Group.

Regency, in which Fox owns a 20% stake, has been a prosperous partnership for the studio. In January, Regency renewed its distribution pact with Fox through 2022.

Company’s long history, management team and distribution arrangement has appealed to investors as well. New Regency, with JP Morgan acting as lead bank, recently went into the market to renew its $500 million credit line.

Harper, Parker and reps for Fox could not immediately be reached for comment.

New Regency has been a staple on the Fox lot since 1998, when the companies inked a worldwide distrib pact. Since then, Regency has produced 55 films and generated box office of more than $5.3 billion. Harper and Parker’s segue to New Regency cemented the strong ties between the companies, as Harper had logged 22 years as a Fox film exec, while Parker had a 13-year run before his move.

As such, news of Harper and Parker’s plan to exit has caught the biz by surprise. In addition to fielding the credit line renewal, the execs had recently taken steps to expand the company’s scope into television again with plans to relaunch of the Regency Television banner.

A decade ago, Regency TV was a busy boutique that scored a major hits for the Fox network in “Malcolm in the Middle” and “The Bernie Mac Show.” But the TV wing folded in 2008 after a series of misfires.

On the film side, Regency’s released this year included “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son,” a reboot of the “Big Momma” franchise, and “Monte Carlo,” co-produced with Fox 2000.

Upcoming pics include the Anna Faris-Chris Evans comedy “What’s Your Number?,” to bow this month, followed by “In Time” in October, and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” in December.

Production shingle has been in talks to co-finance “Luna,” with Doug Liman attached to direct, with Paramount. Summit will also unspool New Regency’s “The Darkest Hour” in December. In August, Brad Pitt became attached to Regency drama “The Gray Man” after months of rumored interest.

Last year Regency partnered with Fox on the Ed Zwick-helmed romantic comedy “Love and Other Drugs,” toplined by Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.