Barnicoat exiting Endemol

Operating chief won't be replaced directly

Endemol chief operating officer Tom Barnicoat has left the TV production company with immediate effect.

Endemol said that both parties have mutually agreed that Barnicoat would step down. He will not be directly replaced and his responsibilities will be taken over by other members of the Endemol management board, the company said in a statement.

Barnicoat's departure comes on the eve of the long-expected sale of the 75% of Endemol owned by Spanish telecom Telefonica.

Barnicoat has been linked with a possible management buyout of Endemol, backed by private equity.

Other parties believed to be circling the company include former Endemol owner John de Mol's Talpa Media company; Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset; Italian firm De Agostini; French fashion group LVMH; and conglomerates Sony, Disney and News Corp.