pinewood and shepperton studios

Pinewood Studios has proved to be not only a high-profile client for Travers Smith Braithwaite but a lucrative one too. The firm initially acted for a newco set up by a consortium led by Sir Michael Grade and backed by 3i, which launched a £62m MBO of Pinewood from Rank in February 2000. On this latest deal for Pinewood, Travers private equity partner Chris Hale led the deal, which consisted of two transactions as Shepperton's 40 per cent stake in The Mill, a digital special effects company, had to be considered. But before the merger could proceed to an active stage, it needed approval by the Office of Fair Trading, and as a link-up of the UK's largest studios may have created a monopoly, this prompted a possible referral to the Competition Commission. Lawyers on the deal put in an application for guidance while arguing that the merger should be judged in terms of its effect on Europe and the US, as it would primarily be in these areas that the new entity would be competing. Once the competition issues had been dealt with, Travers handled the primary transaction, under which film directors Ridley and Tony Scott will retain a stake in the merged entity and become co-chairmen. In terms of The Mill, Pinewood equity holder 3i backed a £28m MBO of the company, on which Travers also acted for the newco. The Royal Bank of Scotland provided senior debt on both deals.