Property group Peel's offer values studio at $144 million
Blighty’s Pinewood Shepperton Studios, home of James Bond, has seen a bump in its share price after receiving a takeover bid from major shareholder Peel Holdings, valuing it at £88 million ($144 million).Peel, which owns a 29.78% stake in Pinewood and is spearheaded by billionaire John Whittaker, has offered £1.90 ($3.10) per share for the biz. While Pinewood declined to comment on the bid, it did indicate that it had been approached by Peel, its biggest shareholder, in a statement made to regulators after the market closed Friday. “This may or may not lead to an offer,” it said. Its share price rose 14% on Friday and was up an additional 4.85% on Monday, closing at $3.17. Commercial property group Peel Holdings — which invests in infrastructure, transport and real estate in Blighty — has nearly $9.8 billion of assets and recently sold Manchester-based shopping mall Trafford Center to Capital Shopping Centers for a reported $2.6 billion. Whittaker’s approach comes as the sutdio is pushing for Project Pinewood, a 100-acre, $327 million complex with sets including a Venetian canal and a typical New York street. Pinewood’s other major shareholder, activist investor and 28% stakeholder Crystal Amber, would have to back the bid and is rumored to want closer to $3.59 per share for the takeover. Last year, Crystal Amber singled out Pinewood chairman Michael Grade and senior independent director Adrian Burn for the ax, saying board renewal was “essential to improve the performance of the group.” But it later backed down from this stance. Last month, Pinewood unveiled a 31% rise in pre-tax profits to $9.5 million and said it was confident of the future despite the economic climate. In February, Pinewood and Indomina Group launched a new studio in the Dominican Republic to expand its brand globally. It currently has studios in Germany, Canada and Malaysia and recently set up a sales office in Culver City, Calif., which will coordinate sales for its international ventures. Last month, Pinewood ramped up its support for smaller-budget Brit pics, pledging to invest up to 20% equity in up to four pics per year.