Pinewood backs take over bid from Peel Group
Pinewood Shepperton, the British studio used to film the James Bond and Harry Potter blockbusters, has backed a higher bid from Peel Group over an approach from former Harrods owner Mohammed Fayed - reports the Telegraph
The Buckinghamshire studio group said it favours the improved Â£96m bid from Peel Group, the Manchester-based property and infrastructure firm which already owns 29.8pc of Pinewood and developed the Salford Quays media complex.
The 200p-a-share deal would represent a premium of 22pc on Pinewoodâs closing price on April 7, when Peel made its first bid, and equates to an increase of some Â£8m from the earlier offer.
Mr Fayed last week made a surprise approach for the studios, although he has not as yet made a formal bid, but the Pinewood board, led by former ITV chairman Michael Grade, said today it was unanimously in favour of the Peel offer.
âPeel has been a most supportive shareholder, committed to our strategy and vision for the group,â said Lord Grade. âTodayâs proposal will give the business the long-term stability it needs to build on the success of the past few years.â
Chrystal Amber, the activist investor that has been calling for the resignation of Pinewood chairman Michael Grade due the under-performance of the shares since its 2004 float, has backed the deal.
Sources close to the situation said Crystal Amber, which owns 28.3pc stake, had signed the conditional agreement with Peel last night. It has said it will accept Peel's 200p-a-share bid unless someone else offers 250p or more.
The historic studio group, which has hosted more than 1,500 films in its 75 year history, is currently planning a Â£200m expansion - dubbed Project Pinewood - to create living streetscapes of Venice, Amsterdam, Prague and New York.
The project would build 1,400 new homes, creating communities for each spot which would then double as filming locations.
Peel Group is the developer behind the MediaCityUK complex at Salford Quays, the new home for the BBC and ITV, and it recently sold the Trafford Centre for Â£1.6bn.
The Pinewood group would operate separately from its other assets, Peel said.
âThe doorâs still open for Al Fayed. To compensate Peel, someone will have to pay at least 250p, because Pinewood Shepperton is absolutely what they do,â said Malcolm Morgan, an analyst at Peel Hunt. âThey already have a great level of investment at MediaCity in Salford, are very expert in what they do in the property market, and have a very clear and strong knowledge of the UK media industry.
âThe ball is very strongly in their court because of the value they bring, so someone would really have to come in with a knock-out offer to outweigh that.â
Mr Fayed previously owned a leading studio in Egypt and funded the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, which his late son Dodi produced and for which he won an Oscar.
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