3i, the British venture capitalist group which recently helped underwrite the merger of Pinewood and Shepperton Studios, has taken a 4.45% stake in Civilian Content, parent of National Lottery franchise the Film Consortium.

The company bought 1.8 million shares from a private shareholder, meaning financial institutions hold more than 30% of Civilian. Gartmoor, M&G, Jupiter and LMS have holdings in the AIM-listed company, which has a market capitalisation of $22.8m (£16m).

"It is a good sign," said Civilian managing director Richard Holmes. "It means they see our business model as viable."

Civilian recently installed former PolyGram Film International chief Aline Perry as head of The Sales Co, the international licensing outfit which it now majority owns. The company has also acquired independent TV production company Isis Productions.

3i led a $48m (£30m) management buyout of the Startle Group of companies from the Telstar Entertainment Group late last year.