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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Pinewood share sale raises 46m
James Bond in Die Another Day
Bond has a long historical connection with Pinewood
UK film studio Pinewood Shepperton has said it raised 46.2m ($81.6m) from the sale of its shares, ahead of its London Stock Exchange debut.

The studio, home to the James Bond and Harry Potter films, said it had sold shares in the company at 180p each - valuing the group at 82.5m.

Conditional trading in the company's shares begins on Friday.

Pinewood chairman Michael Grade, named BBC chairman last month, said he was "delighted with the response".

Chief executive Ian Dunleavy added: "This offering has given us the appropriate capital structure to grow our business and we look forward to the future with confidence."

Conflict concerns

Mr Grade has faced widespread criticism over his decision to retain his 4% share of the studio since being appointed BBC chairman in April.

Mr Grade's holding in the company was worth almost 3.28m from the 180p per share offering.

That was before the company began trading on the market, where its shares had soared to 198.5p by 1000 GMT on Friday.

Some analysts have argued BBC editors may choose Pinewood Shepperton studios over competitors, albeit subconsciously.

More than 30 Carry Ons
Dr Strangelove
James Bond - 18 movies
Three Harry Potters - the fourth is in pre-production
Superhero films: Batman, Superman and X-Men 2
Troy, starring Brad Pitt, currently in post production
However, a BBC spokesman said: "Mr Grade will disclose all of his interests to the BBC Secretary before he takes his post on 17 May, and a system will be put in place to ensure any conflict, whether real or perceived, will not take place."

His predecessor Sir Christopher Bland managed to maintain both the chairmanship of the BBC and that of BT - for a temporary five months between April and September 2001.

During that time, when matters concerning BT were to be discussed by the Board of Governors it is said that Sir Christopher would hand over the reins to the-then deputy - Gavyn Davies - and leave the room.

Illustrious history

Pinewood Shepperton was formed after a management team bought Pinewood Studios from the Rank Group in 2000 and added Shepperton Studios in February 2001.

Its studios, on the outskirts of London, boast 36 stages and back-lots along with digital television studio facilities, audio post production and production support services.

The firm employs about 200 people and also owns the freehold to the two sites, which together total more than 200 acres.

As well as major national and international film production, the studios are used for filmed television and studio television recording and post-production sound services with the group's studios used to film the BBC1 quiz show The Weakest Link.

The group's largest customers include MGM, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal-owned UK production house Working Title and national UK broadcasters.

Group turnover for the year to 31 December was 37.9m with an operating profit of 10.9m.

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