Mill turns on management buyout

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LONDON -- U.K.- and U.S.-based special effects house the Mill has snapped itself up in a management buyout fueled by private-equity cash from the Carlyle Group, an owner of the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.

The deal announced Tuesday ends the involvement of previous private-equity group 3i, which secured a 60% stake in the London effects house in February 2001.

The Mill's management team, led by CEO Robin Shenfield, will own "a substantial portion of the business" after the transaction in a deal insiders said is worth about £60 million ($118 million).

Founded in London in 1990 by Shenfield and Pat Joseph, the Mill today also has a presence in Los Angeles and New York. Shenfield and Joseph have committed to remain with the business following the deal.

Shenfield said he is looking forward to working with Carlyle to grow the Mill's "position as a world-leading visual effects company."

In recent years, the Mill has given up working on films to focus efforts on television and commercials.

Carlyle's Bruno Mourgue d'Algue called the Mill "one of a small number of businesses with the scale, creative expertise and execution abilities to perform postproduction for television commercials at the highest level."

Original investors in the Mill include director Ridley Scott, who secured the company a special effects Oscar in 2001 for the sword-and-sandal epic "Gladiator." Scott has retained a minority share in the operation, but a spokesperson said the director will have "almost nothing to do" with the company anymore.
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