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Candover sells Shepperton

Buyout specialist, Candover has realised its investment in Shepperton Studios, the film and television studio facilities company. Pinewood Studios has bought Candover’s interest for GBP35 million.

3i will be the majority shareholder in the combined business, which will have a value of over GBP100 million.

Candover bought Shepperton for GBP12 million in February 1995 with film directors Tony and Ridley Scott, who remain active shareholders in the enlarged group and will continue as co-chairmen. Since the acquisition, over GBP17.9 million has been invested in the company.

Pinewood was acquired for GBP67 million from the Rank Group plc in February 2000 by a consortium led by Michael Grade, chairman, and Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive, and financed by 3i, Royal Bank of Scotland and Intermediate Capital Group.

The financiers have all extended their support for the merger with Shepperton.

The two studios will continue to retain their individual trading identities, although they will be under common ownership and management. The merger has received clearance from the Office of Fair Trading.

The merger will create a facility that can compete on a global scale for Hollywood productions. It will offer producers an unrivalled level of service, flexibility and comfort.

Michael Grade, executive chairman of the enlarged group, said: “The two studios have been competing for years against each other. In an increasingly global market, this makes no sense. Together, we can enhance Britain’s share of the international movie making business.”

Marek Gumienny, managing director of Candover, added: “During Candover’s ownership, Shepperton more than doubled its profits and has been a very successful investment. This deal revolutionises Europe’s positioning in the global film production arena, bringing it head to head with its Hollywood counterparts.”

Shepperton is the sixth realisation from the Candover 1994 fund and the company’s second exit this year. Last month, Candover agreed the sale of Claverham Group Limited, the Bristol-based defence and aerospace engineering business, returning almost two times its original investment.