Property investor Peel Group looks to up its share in UK studio; Pinewood board backs the bid

Major property investor Peel Group has upped its bid for Pinewood Shepperton, the home of many Bond films, to £96m.

Peel currently owns about 30% of Pinewood and has now offered to pay 200 pence per share for the remainder of the company.

The latest offer comes one week after billionaire businessman and former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed confirmed his interest in acquiring the studio.

Lord Grade, chairman of Pinewood, backed the offer: “The Pinewood Independent Directors have recommended this offer to shareholders as it delivers certainty at an attractive premium. 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.

He continued: “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.

“The Pinewood Independent Directors believe that today’s proposal will give the business the long-term stability it needs to build on the success of the past few years.”

Commenting on the proposed acquisition, John Whittaker, chairman of the Peel Group, said: “Peel believes that the acquisition represents an attractive proposition for the shareholders of Pinewood.”

“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,” Whittaker added.

The acquisition is conditional on approval by Pinewood shareholders and the sanction of the purchase by the courts.

Pinewood has recently hosted the last two instalments in the Harry Potter franchise. Its television studios have hosted Dancing On Ice, Dragons’ Den, BBC sitcom My Family, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories and entertainment show Ant & Dec’s Push The Button.

The studio is currently planning an ambitious £20m Project Pinewood expansion at its studios in Buckinghamshire.