Ambitious British media conglomerate Pearson has emerged as a possible backer of Premier Media’s bid to buy the Rank Organisation’s film interests.

Pearson is reportedly in talks with Premier Media about taking a majority stake in the acquiring consortium being put together by Chemical Bank.

Rank has consistently denied that it has any interest in selling its film division, which includes the Pinewood Studios, a U.K. distribution operation, and an international film sales business, along with film processing and video duplication companies, and the 280-screen Odeon cinema chain.

But analysts suggest that the company, laboring under a T1 billion ($ 1.53 billion) debt load, would find it hard to ignore a substantial bid if Premier Media manages to raise the necessary cash.

The bid is being led by Graham Bradstreet, formerly of Working Title Films, and Ileen Maisel, ex-head of Paramount’s London production office. Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade has been lined up as an outside director of Premier Media.

The group is also talking to Lord Rothschild, John Paul Getty II and David Frost about taking stakes in the bid.

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