The Business On... Michael Grade, Chairman, Pinewood Shepperton


Now there's a star name

Indeed, but did you know that Mr Grade, veteran of leadership roles at the BBC, ITV and Channel Four, is the chairman of Pinewood Shepperton, the film and television studio group behind movies such as the James Bond franchise?



But we hear the closing credits are about to roll?

Don't get ahead of yourself. It's true that one of Pinewood's leading investors, the funds group Crystal Amber, is less than impressed with Mr Grade's stewardship and called for his departure yesterday. But the company insists Mr Grade is going nowhere and has put a prominent supporter on the board to counter Crystal Amber's threat.



Why are the reviews so mixed?

Well, Pinewood has disappointed in recent times. The Bond movies still sell and Robin Hood, another one of its productions, has also done OK. But the recession took its toll on the film business – and Pinewood in particular – and the Screen Actors' Guild strike also hit it hard.



Maybe it needs a twist?

Funny you should say that. Pinewood had been hoping to capitalise on its extensive property interests in the South-east, but various planning delays have stymied its efforts.



Still, surely Grade is the director to turn Pinewood around?

Well, he's certainly got charisma, a big reputation and the sort of cigar habit that a movie mogul needs. But there are one or two cynics who suggest Grade is not all that he is cracked up to be. His most recent big job, running ITV, was far from being an unqualified success. And there are one or two skeletons in the closet – that directorship of the Millennium Dome, for example.



Any other subplots?

Well, Ocado, the online groceries business, is watching the row with a little trepidation. Grade chairs it too and the company is hoping to float on the stock market this year at a price tag some analysts believe is somewhat on the ambitious side. Doubts about Grade won't help Ocado's cause.

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