UK film studio agrees deal with private equity fund; Swedish TV executive Christian Wikander joins Pinewood Television.

Pinewood Studios

Pinewood Studios has agreed a deal to go private after accepting an offer of £323m from asset management business Aermont Capital.

The iconic UK studios, home to the Bond and Carry On franchises, as well as a string of recent US blockbusters, has said the sale will fuel ambitious expansion plans.

Under the deal, shareholders will receive 560p in cash per share, as well as a 3.2p dividend.

Commenting on the offer, Lord Grade of Yarmouth, chairman of Pinewood, said: “The Board believes that [the deal] can provide Pinewood with the platform required for future growth. The Pinewood Group has been transformed in recent years but has been somewhat constrained in realising its ambitions due to the lack of share liquidity.

“As a result of the Strategic Review instigated by the Board, Pinewood now has the prospect of a funding structure for the future. The Board is encouraged by the commitment Bidco [the newly incorporated company set up by Aermont subsidiary PW Fund III] has already shown to management, to Pinewood’s strategy for growth, and to the future of the iconic Pinewood Studios.

“The Board believes that this transaction provides our shareholders with an attractive offer. Moreover the Board believes that following the transaction, Pinewood and clients will benefit from greater opportunities in the years ahead and the Board intends to recommend the offer unanimously.”

“Iconic brand”

Léon Bressler, managing partner of Aermont, added:

“Pinewood is an iconic brand at the heart of the global creative industries.

“The transformation of the business in recent years has been considerable and it is clear that there are more ambitions to be realised. We are excited about the potential to support the business as an independent company.

“Aermont has a strong track record in operating companies with a real estate component. We look forward to working with Pinewood’s management team to deliver their compelling strategy for future growth, both in the UK and internationally.”

Pinewood’s two largest shareholders are Goodweather Investment - which is a subsidiary of MediaCityUK developer Peel Holdings - and jewellery retailer Warren James Holdings, which hold 39% and 26% respectively.

In 2013, Pinewood launched a plan for the $263 million (£200m) expansion of its Pinewood Studios site in a bid to meet the growing demand for UK studio space. The first phase of the expansion was completed last month.

Pinewood becomes the second major UK film company sale post-Brexit, following Wanda’s acquisition of Odeon.

TV addition

Meanwhile, Christian Wikander, current head of drama at SVT, Sweden’s public broadcaster, is joining London-based Pinewood Television as co-production director.  

During his tenure at SVT, Wikander and his department are credited with developing and producing international hits including The Bridge, Real Humans and Jordskott.

Wikander’s remit at Pinewood Television will be to devise a co-production strategy outside of the UK, working with production companies, broadcasters and OTT providers to develop, produce and finance high-end drama series.  

Reporting to Pinewood Television’s creative director Helen Gregory, Wikander will source projects looking for finance as well as taking the company’s own projects to international partners.

He joins a growing team that now includes head of development Louisa FitzGerald, whose credits include Abi Morgan’s River and The Secret starring James Nesbitt.