Mohammed Al-Fayed in Pinewood bid

Egyptian businessman aims to move into the movie business.

by Jennie Kermode

The identity of the mystery bidder behind recent moves to buy out Pinewood Studios was revealed today. Mohammed Al-Fayed's as-yet-unofficial statement of interest puts him into competition with rival bidder Peel Holdings and looks likely to trigger a bidding war that could raise the studio's share prices. Pinewood, home of the Harry Potter films, is currently valued at around £100M

This is not the first time Al-Fayed has shown an interest in the film business. Along with his now deceased son, Dodi, he was the owner of Allied Stars, the production company being Chariots Of Fire, for which Dodi won a Best Picture Oscar. More recently, Al-Fayed has been involved in the production of Diana, a film charting the last days in the lives of his son and the former Princess of Wales. Unlikely to get distribution in Britain and facing accusations of insensitivity because of its release elsewhere so close to the Royal wedding, Diana will be shown unofficially at the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival.

Al-Fayed has spoken of his desire to restore Pinewood to its former glory by investing heavily in improving its technological abilities. The studio has so far declined to comment.

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