UP to £12 million of Manx taxpayers’ money is to be invested in shares in Pinewood Shepperton film studios – but the Treasury Minister would have liked a bigger stake.
Under the agreement the island takes a stake of 9.89 per cent in Pinewood from Peel Holdings at a cost of £12,230,000 taken from Isle of Man Government’s investment reserves.
It is a decision that has already been slammed by Michael MHK Alfred Cannan as an unsuitable use of the reserve funds.
In June, Tynwald approved the purchase of a stake of up to 19.9 per cent, which was to be at a cost of £24m.
But Treasury Minister Eddie Teare MHK said this week: ‘After detailed and robust negotiations we have managed to secure the same benefits for less exposure. In simple terms, the island will enjoy all the advantages of teaming up with one of the world’s leading media brands for half the original sum quoted.’
Explaining the agreement to take the smaller percentage – a 9.89 per cent stake totalling nearly five million shares – Mr Teare said that Peel Holdings wanted to remain the bigger shareholder. He said: ‘Working with them, we feel we have got all the benefits.’
Peel Holdings has more than 70 per cent of the shares and Warren James in Manchester has 20 per cent.
Mr Teare said research had been done before entering into this deal.
The island will pay £2.50 per share – on the day of the announcement the share price had risen to £2.73.
The minister admitted: ‘I would have liked a bigger stake, but you have to be practical.’
He said Peel Holdings wanted to retain as many shares as possible, adding: ‘At the moment I think what we have is a very sound basis on which to move the film industry forward.’
The minister explained a stand-still agreement meant that the island was unable to acquire any more shares in Pinewood for two years.
The deal also sees management of the Isle of Man Government’s Media Development Fund transferred to Pinewood as soon as the company becomes FSA compliant, which is expected to happen within the next few weeks. The UK company will take on the role of adviser for the island’s £25 million film and television investment fund for an initial five-year period.
CinemaNX will cease to manage the fund and Steve Christian and three other former members of CinemaNX staff will move to Pinewood.
Asked to explain the benefits to the island achieved by the deal, Mr Teare said: ‘We are working with a major, well-recognised brand in the entertainment industry, Pinewood Shepperton.
‘The two of us working together can achieve a lot more than individually. Pinewood is able to provide facilities in terms of filming on their stages and we have actual location filming in the Isle of Man.’
Mr Teare said he felt comfortable with this deal, but had also stressed he was comfortable too with the previous proposal to invest more for a larger portion of shares.
Two film collaborations with Pinewood had been achieved already, independent of this agreement.
Period drama Belle is currently being shot here before it will move to Pinewood Studios in Oxford and London to complete production. And later this month filming of another period drama, Dom Hemingway, comes to the island and is to star actors Jude Law and Richard E. Grant.
It is expected that as a result of the agreement more filming – and therefore economic benefit – will come to the island.
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