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EDITIONS
Monday, 12 February, 2001, 12:00 GMT
UK studios merger takes on Hollywood
The world is not enough
Pinewood sets are used for many James Bond films
Pinewood Studios, famed for its James Bond movies, is buying rival Shepperton studios - which made 102 Dalmatians - creating a firm valued at more than 100m.

The move will bring together two of Europe's biggest studios, enabling the joint company to attract big-budget film-makers.

Two-thirds of the work at Pinewood, in Buckinghamshire, and west London's Shepperton already comes from Hollywood.

Shepperton is owned by a consortium which includes film directors Ridley Scott, the director of blockbuster hit Gladiator, his brother Tony, who directed box-office triumph Enemy of the State.

It also includes private equity group Candover.

Gwynneth Paltrow
Shepperton made Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love
Pinewood was sold last year by leisure group Rank for 62m and is headed by former Channel 4 boss Michael Grade.

The enlarged business will have the same number of stages as its Hollywood contemporaries.

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."

Michael Grade
Michael Grade: Pinewood head
The Scott brothers will remain active shareholders in the enlarged group and continue as co-chairmen.

Ridley Scott added that the UK was a "great place to make movies".

"This consolidation of our leading film assets is long overdue," he said. "Tony and I are committed to the growth and continued success of these historic studios."

The merger is being part-financed by the venture capital firm 3i, which has invested almost 12bn in more than 13,200 businesses and currently invests in around 3,000 companies.

Chris Graham, a director of 3i London, said they were "delighted" to be working with Ridley and Tony Scott.

"These studios are unique assets supported by a world class management team and 3i is proud to be associated with such an innovative deal," he added.

Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott: UK is a "great place to make movies"
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.

Established in 1928, Shepperton was acquired in January 1995 by the Scott brothers and Candover.

Since the acquisition, more than 17.9m has been invested in Shepperton studios, which is also famous for making the Oscar-winning hit Shakespeare in Love.

Ridley Scott has directed a large number of major motion pictures including Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, and his latest film Hannibal.

Tony Scott has also directed a large number of major motion pictures including Top Gun, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance and Crimson Tide.

Pinewood has been trading since 1936 and has an equal reputation for world class production, and has recently launched a state-of-the-art digital television studio.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephanie West
"The two studios have been home to some corkers"
See also:

22 Feb 00 | Business
19 Nov 99 | Shaken Not Stirred
23 Nov 00 | Business
22 Jan 01 | Entertainment
19 Jan 01 | Entertainment
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