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Pinewood Profits Fall 12% To $4.5M

First half operating profits after exceptional items have also fallen 3% to £3.2 million. Total revenue fell 6.4% in the first 6 months to £19 million. Film production revenue fell by 8.5% to £10.8 million, while TV shooting income fell 7.3% to £5.1 million. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret was the biggest production to use Pinewood Shepperton between January and June. Other productions using the studios included Disney’s John Carter of Mars and Ruby Films’ Jane Eyre. Pinewood Shepperton has been hit by several Hollywood productions being delayed.

Crystal Amber, which yesterday became Pinewood Shepperton’s biggest shareholder, characterises chairman Michael Grade as “clueless” and called on him to stand down. The investor complains that Pinewood’s revenues have fallen, costs have risen and profits broadly halved since the group raised £50 million at flotation in 2004.

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Pinewood Debates Management Buyout

The publicly-quoted studio facility faces a renewed attack by shareholder Crystal Amber on Wednesday, when it announces its half-year results. Pinewood is expected to announce operating profits have fallen from last year’s £3.3 million ($5 million). Crystal Amber thinks that all the value of the company is locked up in its property portfolio. But Michael Grade, chairman of Pinewood Shepperton, insists Pinewood is a media company, not a property developer. Crystal Amber counters that the studio group hasn’t been paying its property assets enough attention. Stockbroker Investec has calculated that 82% of Pinewood’s value lies in its property assets, not studio operations. The group could make a lot of money selling off some of its portfolio.

Grade and his team are thinking about taking Pinewood Shepperton private again, says the Sunday Times. Crystal Amber has been quietly building up its shareholding to nearly 27% — just edging past second-biggest shareholder Peel Holdings. One idea might be to spin off Pinewood’s property management to a Peel executive, freeing up Grade and CEO Ivan Dunleavy to concentrate on running the studio. Hollywood movies shooting in Britain this summer include Disney’s Pirates Of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, X-Men: First Class – both at Pinewood – and Captain America, filming at Shepperton.

Pinewood shares floated at 180p back in 2004, but today are worth only 168p.

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