Peel Holdings, owner of MediaCityUK and Manchester's Trafford Centre, is tonight in talks to take over control of Pinewood Shepperton Studios, in which it is already a shareholder. One of the great success stories of the British film industry, the studio has been home to the Harry Potter and James Bond franchises along with many other famous films.
Chaired by property magnate John Whittaker, the Peel group has valued the studio at almost £90m, an offer likely to impress other shareholders facing difficulties due to the economic downturn. It is not known what Whittaker's plans for the studio would be, but it seems likely that his interest has been aroused the studio's successfully expanding international portfolio and the recent success of films like The King's Speech. If successful, his bid may rescue the career of chair Michael Grade, who has proven unpopular with other major shareholders.