John Whittaker Peel chairman

Whittaker to sell Pinewood after five years

John Whittaker’s Peel Group stands to make £125m from the £323m sale of AIM-listed Pinewood Studios five years after taking control of the business.

Goodweather Investment Management, a subsidiary of Peel, owns 39% of the film studio complex in Buckinghamshire.

Stockport-based jewellery retailer Warren James Holdings owns 26% and will pocket £84m from the sale, which appears likely to go through without any problem.

Aviva owns 14% of Pinewood Group. In total 89% is not in public hands. So far 79% of shares have been secured in favour of the sale.

Peel took control of Pinewood in 2011 when the studios, where James Bond films have been made, was valued at £96m, or 200p a share. Peel needed 75% of the shares to take Pinewood private but could only reach 71%. Peel’s stake was worth £68m at the 200p share price. Warren James effectively blocked the take-private move by amassing more than 25%.

On Friday, Pinewood said it had reached an agreement with Venus Grafton Sarl, a subsidiary of PW Real Estate Fund III LP, valuing the business at 563.20p a share, made up of 560p in cash plus the final dividend of 3.2p Pinewood announced for its year to the end of March.

“The board believes that this transaction provides our shareholders with an attractive offer. Moreover, the board believes that following the transaction, Pinewood and clients will benefit from greater opportunities in the years ahead and the board intends to recommend the offer unanimously,” chairman Michael Grade said.

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Good gain, good gain.

By Gene Walker

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