After 17 years as Chief Executive of Pinewood Group, Ivan Dunleavy is stepping down. The move follows the £323M sale last summer of Pinewood Group to Aermont Capital. Dunleavy will continue working in an advisory capacity with the facilities operator which includes the iconic Pinewood Studios in England’s South Buckinghamshire, as well as Shepperton Studios and several offshore hubs.

The news was announced internally today. In an email to staff, Pinewood Chairman Paul Golding said, “Ivan has played a huge role in the success of Pinewood. When we became owners six months ago, we were delighted that he stayed on. Now, having overseen a smooth transition from public company to private ownership and with the business in such great shape, he has suggested the time is right to move on. I am pleased to say Ivan will continue to bring us the benefit of his experience as a senior adviser.”

Aermont partner Golding will act as chairman and interim chief executive of Pinewood Group. He told staff there would be “substantial investment in people and infrastructure at Pinewood and Shepperton” and that the company aimed to strengthen its international presence in the main markets around the world.

Pinewood, whose studios have been home to the James Bond franchise as well as the new Star Wars movies and many other titles under the Disney and Marvel banners, had been looking to go private to fund expansion. The UK has been in a space crunch for the past few years, especially as more Hollywood productions set up shop there and with the introduction of the high end UK TV Tax Credit which has created a boom time for stages. The post-Brexit drop in the pound has further made the UK an attractive destination.

Flagship Pinewood Studios in South Bucks was granted planning permission to expand after a long process in 2014, and with the sale looked to motor forward on those and other growth plans.

The first phase of expansion was completed in June 2016 and, last week, Pinewood submitted a planning application for the second phase of development to South Bucks District Council. Phase 2, for which outline permission has already been granted, is for three further sound stages, two of which are designed to be divided into smaller stages if required; three workshop buildings; an office block; parking; roadways; access; and landscaping.

The group also has operations in Toronto, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic and Atlanta.

Dunleavy thanked Pinewood, its staff and wished “all contributors to the screen industries” every success. “I want to express my sincere thanks to all staff, past and present, at Pinewood for the support you have shown me,” he said.