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Blockbuster Deal As Property Firm Raises £2.9B In New Capital For Pinewood Studio


Real estate private equity firm Aermont Capital has raised £2.9B ($3.4B) of new equity from investors, creating a new company to own and expand the famous Pinewood Group studio company, Bisnow can reveal.

Pinewood earlier this week told bondholders that own its debt a new company had been created to own the business.

Pinewood was previously owned by a fund managed by Aermont that had a fixed date by which it had to sell all of its assets. It is now owned by a new permanent capital vehicle called PGV.

Sky News first reported the deal, without including the size of the transaction or the value of the Pinewood business.

A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that Aermont had raised $3.4B (£2.9B) for the new company from a group of six investors. It did not name the investors, and in its presentation to bondholders, said only that the new investors “comprise highly reputable sovereign and state pension funds”.

Aermont declined comment to Bisnow

The £2.9B raise was used to buy the existing Pinewood business, to fund planned expansion of its sites at Pinewood and at Shepperton, to the west of London, and to look at potential new acquisitions. 

In the presentation to bondholders, Aermont said the value of the business at the end of September was £2.3B.

Aermont will continue to manage the company. Aermont partner Paul Golding is Pinewood chairman and interim chief executive.

Pinewood owns and operates more than 1M SF of studio and production space across four sites in three countries. The two largest are in the UK: Pinewood has 24 soundstages and Shepperton has 14. It also has facilities in Toronto and the Dominican Republic.

Aermont has driven up the value of the business by building more space and leasing studios to streaming services and film production companies on long, real estate-style leases rather than on a production-by-production basis. The company has a 95% occupancy level, according to its last financial report, with the entirety of its UK space leased to Netflix, Disney and Amazon

On the development front, the company completed construction of five new stages at Pinewood West in October. They have been handed over to Disney under a long-term contract and rent is now being received.

At Shepperton North West, a project will deliver three soundstages and other production accommodation totalling about 165K SF, with 6 acres of backlot. Completion is expected in 2023 and the scheme has been pre-let by Amazon.  

At Shepperton South, a project will deliver 14 soundstages and other production accommodation totalling about 800K SF. Completion is expected in the second half of 2023 and the scheme has been pre-let to Amazon and Netflix. 

At Pinewood South, the company submitted a revised planning application in July to develop a 1.4M SF scheme comprising production accommodation — up from a previous application of 750K SF — an education/business hub and a nature reserve.

Other further planning applications are also in the works. 

Pinewood had total debt of £1.05B at the end of September, with the majority due for maturity in 2025. In the three months to the end of September, the company produced earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £34M, up 3% on the same quarter last year. It posted revenue of £55M, up 12% year-on-year. 

Aermont took Pinewood private in 2016, buying the company for just £326M. The deal to bring in new investors sees it crystallise a huge profit on the transaction.