PINEWOOD Shepperton, the iconic British studios that has played host to screen legends including James Bond and Harry Potter, looks set to be sold to Peel Holdings for £96m.
Peel fought off an eleventh hour rival approach from controversial Fulham FC owner Mohamed al Fayed. The former Harrods owner is thought to be mulling an improved offer before the deal closes in the summer.
If the bid is ratified by shareholders, Peel will pay 200p a share for the 70 per cent of the firm it does not already own, an increase of £8m on its previous offer. It represents a premium of 37.6 per cent to the average closing price for the three months prior to the bid.
Pinewood chairman Michael Grade, who has faced calls for his resignation from major shareholder Crystal Amber, said: “The directors have recommended this offer to shareholders as it delivers certainty at an attractive premium.
“This stable time in a volatile industry offers shareholders an opportune moment to realise value.
“Peel has been a most supportive shareholder, committed to our strategy and vision for the group.”
Pinewood was advised by JP Morgan and BDO.
John Whittaker, chairman of the Peel Group, said: “The acquisition represents an attractive proposition for the shareholders of Pinewood.
“Peel represents a long-term strategic partner for Pinewood in continuing to grow and develop the business.”
Al Fayed declined to comment on the recommendation yesterday.
The studios last month revealed a plan to invest millions over the next few years to help finance small British films. It says it will set aside money for productions with a budget of around £2-3m.