Pinewood Studios to be taken private in £323m deal with Aermont Capital

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Offer values each Pinewood share at 560p and gives film studio – home of James Bond franchise – funds for expansion plans

Pinewood Studios to be taken private in £323m deal with Aermont Capital
Sean Connery as James Bond and a gold-painted Shirley Eaton being photographed on the set of Goldfinger at Pinewood Studios. Photograph: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Pinewood Studios is to be taken private in a £323m deal as the studio where James Bond is filmed seeks financial firepower for its expansion plans.

The film studio has said it needs to go private to fund ambitious plans to expand the historic complex in Buckingamshire, which opened in the 1930s and went on to shoot long-running series such as the Carry On films and James Bond franchise.

The offer from Aermont Capital, a London-based asset manager, values each Pinewood share at 560p..

Lord Grade, chairman of Pinewood, said the takeover was an attractive offer for investors that would give Pinewood “the platform required for future growth”.

Grade, a former chairman of the BBC and of grocery delivery firm Ocado, added: “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.”

Shareholders will also get a special dividend of 3.2p per share, making the deal for Pinewood, where the Star Wars series is also made, worth £323.3m.

Pinewood’s directors stand to make a combined £1.82m if they sell their entire holdings, including a £1m windfall for the chief executive, Ivan Dunleavy.

Aermont said on Friday that it had secured financing from Perella Weinberg, the private equity group from which it was spun off and whose real estate funds it now advises.

The price tag is a 31% premium on Pinewood’s average closing share price of 430p in the three weeks before they hired investment bank Rothschild to perform a strategic review signalling a likely sale of the business.

Aermont said 14% shareholder Aviva had joined Goodweather Investment and Warren James Holdings in undertaking to sell their shares, meaning the deal is all but certain to proceed.

Pinewood is listed on the AIM junior stock market and did not have a large enough free float – shares available to buy – to meet requirements to move to the main market, where it would have been able to raise more cash from investors.

Grade said: “Pinewood and clients will benefit from greater opportunities in the years ahead and the board intends to recommend the offer unanimously.”

Léon Bressler, managing partner of Aermont, said Pinewood was “an iconic brand at the heart of the global creative industries”.

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