Isle of Man to strike deal with Pinewood in ambitious film industry plan?

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PLANS for a ground-breaking partnership between the Isle of Man and Pinewood Shepperton are being proposed.

Treasury Minister Eddie Teare MHK confirmed the partnership would mean Pinewood - the studios behind blockbuster films such as those in the James Bond franchise - would be responsible for the management of the £25 million media development fund.

And in what is likely be seen as the most surprising part of the plan, Mr Teare is proposing Treasury spend up to £24 million from investment reserves to take a shareholding of up to 19.99 per cent in Pinewood Shepperton.

An announcement was due to be made to the stock exchange this (Wednesday) morning.

Mr Teare will seek Tynwald authorisation for the partnership at this month’s sitting of Tynwald.

Should he be successful, it would mean the end of CinemaNX, which has managed the media development fund since 2007.

Mr Teare confirmed NX fund manager Steve Christian, plus a ‘core team’ of staff from the company, would move to Pinewood as part of the new plans.

He said there would be no impact on staffing at Isle of Man Film in the Department of Economic Development.

And he confirmed Treasury would retain final say on investments in projects.

Mr Teare also explained government was working in partnership with island resident John Whittaker’s Peel Holdings, which at present has a 74 per cent share in Pinewood. If approved, the plan would mean government taking over shares now owned by Peel Holdings.

The aim of the partnership would be to open up access to a wide network of contacts and opportunities at the highest levels in the media world.

The news comes as an independent report on the economic impact of the island’s film industry is published. The report recommends such a partnership as a way to progress the industry. Mr Teare also said the report debunks the widely held belief that the island’s involvement in the film industry has been about maximising VAT returns.

Mr Teare admitted all options had been on the table when considering the future of the industry, including ‘struggling on’ and even ‘pulling out altogether’.

But he said the partnership with Pinewood presented ‘an unique opportunity’ that he said came along ‘once in a lifetime’.

For full coverage see this week’s Manx Independent.

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