Pinewood Studios receives £88m takeover approach

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The Independent Online

Peel Holdings, the property group behind the MediaCityUK, has made an £88m takeover approach for Pinewood Shepperton, where the James Bond and Harry Potter franchises are filmed.

Pinewood last night confirmed it had received the approach, worth 190p a share, after its stock jumped 9.1 per cent to 185.5p yesterday. The bid is at a 31 per cent premium to the three-month average price of Pinewood shares.

Analysts have speculated that John Whittaker, Peel's Bury-born founder, was able to make a bid for Pinewood ever since he took his stake in the company over 20 per cent in 2008. He has since built his stake up to 29.8 per cent, just below the 30 per cent threshold that would trigger a mandatory bid for Pinewood under Takeover Panel rules.

Peel's MediaCity complex, at Salford Quays in Manchester, is home to the BBC's new Northern base as well as the University of Salford. ITV's Coronation Street also announced it would be moving to new studios in the complex at the end of last year.

Pinewood has also been under fire from an activist shareholder, Crystal Amber, which owns another 28.9 per cent of the studios and has tried in the past to oust its chairman Lord Grade, claiming the group's performance has been poor since its stock market flotation in 2004. Peel has so far backed Pinewood in battles with the activist fund.

Peel also owns John Lennon airport in Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal Company. It recently sold Manchester's Trafford Centre for £1.6bn to rival Capital Shopping Centres in a stock deal.