Pinewood Studios, one of the world’s leading production facilities companies, is nearing a $425 million deal to be taken over by U.S. property investment fund Venus Grafton. Pinewood chief exec Ivan Dunleavy has been looking for an investor to come in to the group for some time. Pinewood owns studios and facilities across the world, including its namesake studio in the UK, Shepperton Studios and Pinewood Studio Wales in the UK, the group also has operations in Toronto, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic and Atlanta in the U.S. Though a deal has not yet been finalised, a statement by Pinewood on Thursday confirmed the board intends to recommend the offer to shareholders.
“We believe that we have found the right partner for the business and one that shares our long-term vision for the future of the group,” said Pinewood chief exec Dunleavy. “Pinewood’s continuing commitment to the UK’s creative industries remains as strong as ever. Staff and customers can be assured that in this new strategic partnership our priority will be to not only maintain, but build on the world class provision of services.”
The news comes as Pinewood has enjoyed strong revenues for its production facilities, thanks to the likes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Spectre. The company has, however, long sought to leverage its bricks and mortar infrastructure to get more control of IP and upside in the actual content produced in its facilities.
Dunleavy has also long complained of a restricting shareholder register that has held back the company from publicly listing as well as raising new investment.
Venus Grafton is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the U.S.-based PW Real Estate Fund III LP. It says it has over $4 billion in capital and assets from its diversified investors, including institutions and pension plans, from across the world dedicated to real estate investment in the UK and Europe. London-based independent asset management business Aermont Capital advised on the deal.
Due diligence has been completed on the Pinewood deal and the next stage is for financing arrangements to be finalised. The process could take up to four weeks.
“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,” said Aermont managing partner Leon Bressler.
Pinewood’s two largest shareholders are Goodweather Investment – a subsidof MediaCityUK developer Peel Holdings – and jewellery retailer Warren James Holdings, which hold 39% and 26% respectively.