Peel Closes In on Pinewood Shepperton Outright Ownership

U.K. studio facilities operator deal is worth $160 million.

LONDON –  The board of U.K. studio facilities group Pinewood Shepperton, listed here on the stock exchange, has given its blessing to a bid by the group’s largest single stakeholder, Peel Holdings, in a £96 million ($160 million) pledge to buy the company outright.

Peel currently owns around 30% of the group and has offered to pay £2 ($3.30), a slightly higher offer than the £1.90 offered two weeks ago after it emerged last week billionaire businessman and former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed said he was in the running to make an offer.

Pinewood chairman Michael Grade told the markets the Peel bid “delivers certainty at an attractive premium” for the group that operates studio facilities in Buckinghamshire and at Shepperton and Teddington in Middlesex.

“In the context of increasing illiquidity in the trading of Pinewood Shares, the Pinewood Independent Directors believe that this stable time in a volatile industry offers shareholders an opportune moment to realise value,” Grade said. “Peel has been a most supportive shareholder, committed to our strategy and vision for the group. The Board is satisfied that the long-term future of these assets, which make such a contribution to the growth of the UK’s creative industries, will pass into safe hands.”

Peel chairman John Whittaker said: “Peel is a long-term investor in Pinewood and the wider media sector through its MediaCityUK investment and looks forward to supporting the Pinewood management in growing its operational business and developing its unique Project Pinewood proposal. Peel represents a long-term strategic partner for Pinewood in continuing to grow and develop the business.”

Last month, Pinewood posted a 31 percent rise in pre-tax profits to £5.8 million, and told the market it was looking to the future with "confidence" despite a poor economic climate.

The company also unveiled an investment plan for small-budget British films.

The company will target films with production budgets of about £2 million each and will invest equity up to 20 percent per film.