In Brief

James Bond studio owner gives company a licence to sell

Pinewood Group appoints Rothschild to advise on potential £350m sale of business

Pinewood Group, the owner of the studio most famous as the home of the James Bond franchise, has launched a review of its capital structure that could lead to a sale of the business.

The production facilities company, which owns the eponymous film and television studio as well as a number of others in the UK and overseas, in countries including Canada and Malaysia, has appointed investment bank Rothschild to advise on the process. Options under consideration include measures to help achieve a main stock market listing or a sale that would be worth as much as £350m.

Pinewood, which has been listed on the London Stock Exchange's small-cap alternative investment market since 2004, has for some time now been seeking a move onto the main market to help it raise funds for a £200m expansion, The Guardian says. It raised £30m through a share issuance last year, but this failed to expand its capital base sufficiently to meet the main market minimum, Sky News adds.

To list on the London Stock Exchange, a company must have at least 25 per cent of its shares in "free float" - that is, available for investors to buy and sell on the open market. At the moment, Pinewood is effectively controlled by three shareholders - property group Peel Holdings, which owns 39 per cent; jewellery chain Warren James, at 26 per cent, and Aviva, with 16 per cent – who have been reluctant to dilute their holdings.

One city source told The Guardian that the ideal outcome for Pinewood would be to encourage new investment at a valuation that would enable these principal shareholders to sell down without compromising the value of their holding. The paper also quotes another broker as saying the sale of such a "trophy asset" could be at "somewhere between £315m and £350m", a substantial premium to its pre-announcement market capitalisation of £260m.

Pinewood announced the review as it published results for the first half of the financial year showing operating profits had trebled to £7m on revenues of £38.2m. In the past year, it has been home to the latest films in both the Bond and the Star Wars franchises, while its investment arm has backed Amazon’s first UK original drama, the period fashion drama The Collection.

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