Winchester strengthened by US film tie

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The Independent Online

The film company Winchester Entertainment is to be taken over by an American group with ambitious plans to create a sizeable movie company based in this country.

Content Film, based in New York and run by the producers of a series of hit American films, is to take over the business, though it will retain its listing on the Alternative Investment Market.

A complex transaction is technically structured as an acquisition of the US group by Winchester but the UK company will end up being 50.1 per cent owned by Content. Ed Pressman and John Schmidt, who jointly founded Content in 2001, will be the co-chief executives of the combined group. The transaction includes a £3m equity injection into Winchester, plus financing in place for future films.

New UK films will be among the first projects of the enlarged company, which will be listed and headquartered in London.

Mr Pressman and Mr Schmidt said in a joint statement: "The combination of these two businesses would create a truly international production and sales company which moves us towards our goal of creating an integrated and balanced entertainment concern."

Mr Schmidt, the ex-finance director of Miramax, previously founded October Films, which released films such as The Apostle and Secrets and Lies. Mr Pressman has been an independent film producer for 30 years and has produced more than 70 films including Wall Street, Badlands and American Psycho.

Huw Davies, the chairman of Winchester, said: "John Schmidt and Ed Pressman bring in an extra, vigorous dimension to our strong management team which will enable the combined company to make a far bigger impact in the independent film business."