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Pinewood Studios weighing sale to Venus Grafton fund in $425-million takeover deal

Pinewood Studios weighing sale to Venus Grafton fund in $425-million takeover deal
Actor Daniel Craig portrays James Bond in 2015's "Spectre." Pinewood Studios is home to the long-running spy film franchise. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions)

Pinewood Studios, the British company known for its work on major films such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and the "James Bond" franchise, is considering a $425-million takeover deal from the Venus Grafton property investment fund.

Though the deal has not been finalized, the Pinewood board of directors intends to recommend it to shareholders, according to a statement released Thursday.  Pinewood is one of the leading suppliers of studio and related services to the global film and television industries.

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"Pinewood has grown in recent years into a global operation which sits at the forefront of the UK's creative industries," Pinewood Chief Executive Ivan Dunleavy said in a statement. "We believe that we have found the right partner for the business and one that shares our long-term vision for the future of the Group."

The London-based company, which began operating in the 1930s, opened a major studio in Atlanta in 2013. Pinewood Studios runs additional operations in Toronto, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic.

Several recent films the studio worked on, including "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Spectre" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," have enjoyed immense box-office success.

Pinewood Studios appointed investment bank Rothschild to review its capital base and structure in February. Rothschild is also advising the studio on the Venus Grafton deal. Pinewood has struggled to raise additional investment funding via the stock exchange in recent years, according to the company's Thursday statement.

In order for the sale to proceed, Aermont Capital, a London-based asset management business, must secure financing in the next four weeks. Venus Grafton is managed by Aermont, which will work with Pinewood to expand its global presence, the company said.

Pinewood Studios made headlines this week when a production company using its studio in London admitted to health and safety breaches that broke the leg of star Harrison Ford during the filming of "The Force Awakens."

tyler.hersko@latimes.com

@tylerhersko

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