Belfast Telegraph

Al Fayed confirms bid to buy Harry Potter studios

By Graeme Evans

Mohamed al Fayed has confirmed his interest in bidding for Pinewood Shepperton studios, home of the James Bond and Harry Potter films.

Responding to speculation, the former Harrods owner said he was mulling an all-cash offer for the business, which is currently the subject of takeover interest from north of England property investor Peel Holdings.

Mr Fayed will need to trump an offer worth around £88m from Peel, whose projects include the MediaCityUK development.

Pinewood revealed on Wednesday that it had received a second takeover approach but did not disclose the identity of the potential suitor.

Mr Fayed, who co-funded the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire in 1981, said yesterday: "Mr al Fayed confirms he is considering making an all cash offer for Pinewood.

"There can be no certainty that an offer will be forthcoming."

Pinewood, which has 34 stages, filmed the fourth instalment of the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise - starring Johnny Depp - the final Harry Potter film and an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's 19th century novel Jane Eyre in 2010.

The 75-year-old business is currently planning an ambitious £20m Project Pinewood expansion at its studios in Buckinghamshire that will see it build new facilities and sets on a par with those found in Hollywood.

Its television studios have shot Dancing On Ice, Dragons' Den, BBC sitcom My Family, Piers Morgan's Life Stories and entertainment show Ant -amp; Dec's Push The Button.

Pinewood, which has studios in Shepperton and Teddington in Middlesex, last month posted a 31% increase in pre-tax profits to £5.8m in the 12 months to December 31, and an 8% increase in revenues to £43.4m.

The company also announced plans to invest millions of pounds into low-budget British films, which it hopes can emulate the success of Oscar-nominated The King's Speech.

Peel already has 30% of the firm, while investment fund Crystal Amber has a 28% stake in Pinewood.