The City of Toronto has taken a 20% stake in the Pinewood consortium’s takeover of the city’s FilmPort megastudio.

Yesterday, Toronto city council approved the takeover of the facility by Pinewood Studios Group and two Canadian partners, property developer Castlepoint Group and investment firm ROI Capital. The unexpected move by the city was passed by a large margin of councillors.

Under the new arrangement, the consortium will manage FilmPort under the Pinewood brand while Castlepoint and ROI will provide the capital backing. Castlepoint achieve its aim after two previous attempts to get into the studio business. Current majority owner Rose Corp. will sell its entire share, leaving original minority investor Comweb Corp., which operates several production services firms, with its 20 per cent stake.

For its part, the City of Toronto will lend an undisclosed sum to its commercial proxy, the Toronto Economic Development Corp., to pay for the stake. While some councilors complained that the city has no skill-set for studio ownership Toronto mayor David Miller said the potential for employment stimulation was worth the investment.

A source close to the negotiations told Screendaily that Rose Corp. was seeking an exit from a financially burdensome undertaking. ‘There was a lot of heavy lifting’ to get FilmPort off the ground, said the source, referring to several factors that delayed the opening - not to mention that the opening occurred in August of last year just as the world financial meltdown gained pace.

‘The original investors had to spend double what they initially committed,’ said the source, who added that the new owners have ‘their eyes open and cheque books ready.’