Business

Pinewood Studios: Jeweller emerges as key player

Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp
Image caption The new Pirates of the Caribbean film, with Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp, was shot at Pinewood

Warren James has emerged as a key player in the planned takeover of Pinewood Shepperton by Peel Holdings.

The jeweller said on Friday that it had raised its stake from 4.7% to 16%, enough to prevent Peel from forcing them to sell under UK takeover rules.

Peel confirmed the same day enough shareholders had now accepted its offer to give it a 63% stake in the studios.

The company will buy shares up until 24 June for 200p - less than the 210p that Warren James paid for its new shares.

The move suggests that Warren James does not intend to sell to Peel, as it could only do so at a loss of 10p per share.

Pirates

Meanwhile, Peel has said that its offer is now unconditional, meaning it will go ahead whatever the uptake.

The firm said it would delist Pinewood from the London Stock Exchange, if it obtained the necessary 75% majority - a move that would damage the value of the remaining minority shares, as they would be harder to trade.

However, Peel would need to obtain a 90% majority in order to force any remaining hold-outs to sell their shares - something that Warren James' move now throws doubt on.

Peel already owns just under 30% of the 75-year-old film studios that are home to the James Bond and Harry Potter films, and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Pinewood's board unanimously accepted the £96.1m cash offer in April.

The deal is also subject to an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading into whether the acquisition will give Peel an unfairly dominant position in the media industry.

The company - which is chaired by billionaire property tycoon John Whittaker - also owns the site of the Media City development in Salford, at which the BBC is a major tenant.

Pinewood has studios in Buckinghamshire, and at Shepperton and Teddington in Middlesex.

On Thursday, Pinewood's share price jumped over 5.5% to 210.5p - well above the 200p value of Peel's offer.

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