Pinewood lifted by film contract wins

Film studios Pinewood Shepperton gave its chairman Michael Grade some breathing space yesterday by forecasting higher-than-expected revenues.

The group – whose chairman has faced recent calls to resign from activist investor Crystal Amber – said revenues for 2010 as a whole were now likely to beat market predictions after a raft of recent film contract wins.

The news comes in the week that Crystal Amber upped its stake to become the largest shareholder in Pinewood, home to the Harry Potter and James Bond films.

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It has pushed for former ITV boss Mr Grade to step down after criticising the company's performance since it listed on the stock market in 2004 – a period in which profits have fallen by more than half.

Pinewood's revenues forecast helped offset half-year results yesterday, which showed pre-tax profits fell 7 per cent to 1.5m in the six months to June 30 after revenues declined 6 per cent.

Crystal Amber – a Guernsey-based investment fund – has increased its stake in Pinewood from 18 per cent to just under 27 per cent since June.

Crystal has since targeted Mr Grade for what it claims is "poor stewardship" as chairman of the company and said the board needed fresh leadership.

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However, Mr Grade has maintained he has the support of the majority of the group's investors.

The firm said it had "significant visibility for the remainder of 2010, having won a high level of contracted film business.

It is also benefiting from the popularity of 3D following successes of films such as Avatar, which is helping extend the use of its facilities.

Pinewood Shepperton's studios have been used for films including Clash of the Titans and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, due out later this year.

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