1. Hunt for MGM CEO hits snag

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-06-16

    The Hollywood Reporter – MGM’s parade of CEO candidates seems to have marched down a blind alley.

    Jonathan Dolgen, Peter Chernin and Bill Mechanic each have made it clear he has no interest in taking the Lion’s reins despite urgings from studio lenders and the prospect of a recapitalized new ownership structure. At the same time, lenders have been unable to work up much enthusiasm for others interviewed as prospective new CEOs.

    Well-regarded executives at Summit and Spyglass have been consulted but failed to convince weary Lion debtholders that their management prowess alone could put the studio back on the path to prosperity. Burdened by a crushing debt load of almost $4 billion, MGM owners tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer for the studio and now seeks to fashion a financial and management restructuring.

    The goal: to buy three to four years of solvency in the hope the studio’s value will rise in the meantime.

    In a bit of good news, investment films Qualia Capital, Anchorage Advisors and others remain interested in sinking $500 million or more into the Lion in exchange for an equity stake. That would get film chief Mary Parent back into action after movie development and releasing was halted because of the studio’s woes.

    An idea gaining currency in the absence of an obvious candidate would be to keep the “office of the CEO” arrangement that’s been in place since Harry Sloan resigned as CEO in August to become non-executive chairman of MGM. Restructuring specialist Stephen Cooper would remain in place longer than planned, with Parent and CFO Bedi Singh maintaining co-CEO roles during a prepackaged bankruptcy to clean up debt.

    In the process, studio equity would shift from a current group of owners to MGM lenders and any new equity investors. MGM’s ownership consortium includes Providence Equity, TPG Capital, Sony, Comcast, DLJ Merchant and Quadrangle.

    J.P. Morgan leads a steering committee representing more than 100 MGM debtholders, though consolidation of publicly traded Lion debt in recent months means one-third of the debt now is held by Highland Capital and a handful of other lenders. Lenders holding two-thirds of the studio’s debt would have to approve any prepackaged bankruptcy.

    MGM has the thriller Red Dawn set for release in November and the horror thriller Cabin in the Woods slotted for January. But no trailers have been shot, and it’s assumed both will be pushed to later release dates.

    The situation has been frustrating for those still in the trenches at MGM. But some see a silver lining in the incremental management shifts since MGM’s financial woes reached crisis proportions.

    Older-guard executives tended to be too laid back to address the Lion’s increasingly dire challenges, some suggest.

    “We’d be sitting in a meeting with all these problems and $4 billion of debt, and we’d be talking about that night’s Lakers tickets,” a studio insider recalled. “There was always two MGMs—the old MGM and the Mary Parent MGM. If Mary Parent had her way, the Bond film would come out in November.”

    MGM’s rights to the James Bond movie franchise represent its most highly valued asset, but the studio recently was forced to postpone development on the next Bond pic until its corporate problems were sorted. A planned co-production with Warner Bros. based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy tome The Hobbit also has been delayed.

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  2. Creditors seek leads for MGM studio

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-06-03

    BusinessWeek – An unusual casting call has attracted some of Hollywood’s biggest moguls. The role: rescuer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film studio struggling under $3.7 billion in debt left over from a 2005 buyout.

    Former News Corp. President Peter Chernin and Jonathan Dolgen, Viacom’s onetime Hollywood chief, recently auditioned for the job. The decision makers will be MGM’s creditors, who must figure out whether it makes more financial sense to sell to Time Warner, the high bidder in a March auction, or to run the studio themselves. MGM, owner of franchises that include James Bond and Pink Panther, is suffering from a lack of hits and the industrywide slump in DVD sales.

    The lenders, which include Highland Capital Management and Anchorage Advisors, already have learned one of Hollywood’s first lessons: Never bet your own money on the movie business. Loans that traded at 65 percent of face value in January changed hands for as little as 43 percent in late May—valuing the company at $1.6 billion. That’s close to Time Warner’s $1.5 [b]illion high bid, according to people with knowledge of the auction. If the creditors decide to turn it down and go into show business themselves, they may have to put up some $500 million to jump-start production.

    “They’re trying to understand how they do it,” says Clark Hallren, managing partner of the Los Angeles-based entertainment advisory Clear Scope Partners. “Do we need to keep domestic theatrical distribution? Do we continue to outsource home-video distribution? What kind of movies should we make?”

    Delays in resolving MGM’s fate have further clouded its outlook. Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, who co-own the lucrative 007 brand with MGM, suspended production on the 23rd Bond film in April, citing “uncertainty” about the studio’s future. On May 30, director Guillermo del Toro bailed from MGM’s upcoming The Hobbit, a J.R.R. Tolkien movie. MGM shares the rights to The Hobbit with Warner Bros. “The film business can be awfully seductive,” said former Universal Studios Chairman Frank Biondi, who advised some of the private equity investors who bought MGM for $5 billion in 2005. “I told them then that they had a melting ice cube.”

    The Broccoli family has urged Warner Bros. to stay in the bidding, said three people with knowledge of the situation. Scott Rowe, a spokesman for Warner Bros., declined to comment, as did Susie Arons, an outside spokeswoman for MGM. Stephanie Wenborn, a spokeswoman for Broccoli and Wilson’s London-based Eon Productions, also declined to comment.

    With new management, the creditors hope to boost production, cut costs, and eventually seek a price of more than $2 billion for the studio, said two people who have discussed the plan with them. Finding ways to maximize MGM’s value won’t be easy, says Mark Patricof, managing partner of investment bank MESA. “There are not that many new faces out there with a lot of new ideas for MGM to consider,” he says.

    Patricof says the creditors should instead sell off MGM’s assets, including its rights to the Stargate TV series. The Bond franchise could fetch $750 million alone, according to Douglas Lowell, who advises independent film companies on film financing. Its last five installments averaged $461 million in worldwide ticket sales. Whatever the outcome, the creditors aren’t the only ones looking to get paid. Actor Tom Cruise, who signed on with MGM in 2006 and helped raise $500 million to produce films, owns a 30 percent stake of MGM’s United Artists film unit, according to one former MGM executive. “Tom is protected and will be fine,” says Cruise’s attorney, Bert Fields.

    The bottom line: MGM’s valuable franchises make creditors believe they can profit by reviving the storied studio. It won’t be easy.

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  3. MGM's future now in hands of debt holders, not management

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-24

    Los Angeles Times – After nine months of tumult over the future of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the storied movie studio’s fate now rests in the hands of debt holders with little experience in the entertainment business.

    Hedge funds that control large chunks of MGM’s $3.7-billion debt, including Anchorage Advisors and Highland Capital Management, are ignoring a 2-month-old acquisition offer from Time Warner Inc. and a restructuring plan backed by Chief Executive Stephen Cooper, a turnaround expert brought in last year, to reboot the studio with $1 billion in new capital.

    The hedge funds, which would own the studio by swapping debt for equity, have balked at raising that much money and are seeking to keep MGM afloat at significantly lower cost, according to people close to the matter. The debt holders are now at odds with MGM management over how ambitious a plan is needed to salvage the studio.

    The internal divide and lingering uncertainty demonstrate how tortured MGM’s reorganization process has been and how the balance of power has shifted from management to lenders.

    “Now that MGM’s debt holders are in control of the company, they have a steep learning curve to get up to speed on a complex business,” said Clark Hallren, managing partner of entertainment banking advisory firm Clear Scope Partners, who is not involved in the process.

    In recent weeks they have also met with veteran Hollywood executives, including former News Corp. President Peter Chernin, onetime Warner Bros. co-Chairman Terry Semel, and Joe Roth, who previously ran Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox, to seek their advice and gauge their interest in running the studio.

    The debt holders are considering a strategic partnership with such companies as Summit Entertainment, the independent studio behind the Twilight movies, and production and financing company Spyglass Entertainment. In exchange for equity in a restructured MGM, the partner would oversee a small production slate and manage the 86-year-old studio’s 4,000-title library, which controls the James Bond franchise.

    But a cohesive plan has yet to materialize and must be accompanied by the none-too-simple task of raising money for operations and new movies.

    Cooper, who previously was tapped to oversee troubled companies such as Enron and Krispy Kreme, was brought in last August by MGM’s owners to restructure the company’s crippling debt. The studio assumed the liability when it was acquired in 2005 by an investment group that included private equity funds Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group.

    Cooper and his team, including two executives from his firm Zolfo Cooper who work full time in MGM’s Century City headquarters, determined the best course was to recapitalize the company and maintain its independence, a person familiar with the process said.

    However, MGM’s debt holders didn’t want to inject more capital into the beleaguered studio. Instead, last fall they pushed Cooper to sell the company.

    They couldn’t have picked a worse time. Film libraries have eroded in value recently as consumers have cut back on DVD purchases. A drawn-out sale process that lasted into the spring led to several initial bidders, including Lions Gate Entertainment and industrialist Len Blavatnik, dropping out. By May, only Time Warner’s $1.5-billion offer remained.

    MGM’s creditors had hoped for much higher bids. Over the last six months a group of hedge funds including Anchorage, Highland and Davidson Kempner Capital Management bought a substantial amount of the studio’s debt at more than 50 cents, and in some cases more than 60 cents, on the dollar. That meant they would have to sell the studio for well over $2 billion just to break even.

    Though Time Warner’s bid has not been officially rejected, people at the media giant’s Warner Bros. studio have been frustrated by the protracted process, in part because it and MGM co-own the rights to movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which are currently in development.

    MGM’s lenders are still weighing options as they grant one waiver after another on the studio’s interest payments. Cooper’s plan calls for MGM to continue producing and distributing six to eight films a year, while less ambitious and costly proposals include making fewer movies and having partners co-finance and possibly distribute them.

    MGM motion picture group Chairwoman Mary Parent, who has been running day-to-day operations for the last two years, has been left to hold together the company and its nearly 500 employees with no visibility on its future. Her tasks include dealing with filmmakers whose projects are in limbo.

    “I’m a very bad Sherlock Holmes trying to figure out what’s happening over there,” said producer Bradley Thomas, who along with his director partners Peter and Bobby Farrelly has been attempting to make a film at MGM based on the Three Stooges. “I feel impotent. We can’t do anything until it’s resolved.”

    In April, the longtime producers of James Bond movies announced that they were indefinitely postponing a planned 23rd installment because of the “continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM.”

    The only picture left on MGM’s release slate this year is a remake of the Reagan-era classic Red Dawn. Scheduled for release in November, the film doesn’t yet have a marketing plan or even, as is standard six months out, a first trailer.

    “We all would like to have closure on what will become of the studio,” said Red Dawn producer Beau Flynn.

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  4. MGM's creditors near choice on partner

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-19

    The Wall Street Journal – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.’s creditors are nearing a choice on a possible strategic partner, a move that could break the logjam over how to resolve the studio’s crippling $4 billion debt load.

    The creditors’ current plans would replace at least some of MGM’s top executives, according to several people familiar with the matter, though they added no final decisions have been made.

    The creditors, led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hedge-funds Anchorage Advisors and Highland Capital Management, have had discussions with a handful of Hollywood executives about running MGM in exchange for an equity stake in the iconic film studio, these people said.

    Those having discussions with MGM’s creditors include Summit Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment and former Yahoo Inc. executive Terry Semel, these people said. The creditors have also spoken with former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, although people close to the mogul say he isn’t interested in running MGM.

    Choosing a strategic partner to run MGM would likely lead to a reshuffling of the studio’s top ranks, including Mary Parent, ostensibly MGM’s top executive. She shares a new “Office of the CEO” with turnaround specialist Stephen Cooper, who was brought on by MGM’s owners in August to help restructure the studio. He’s expected to leave once MGM’s restructuring is finished.

    Creditors believe that a partner with expertise in the entertainment industry can help MGM produce a new slate of movies that could then breathe new life into its film library—its most valuable asset. MGM told creditors it needs $1 billion in fresh capital for new films, but the lenders haven’t signed on to that proposal and are still mulling how much new money, if any, the studio needs and how to raise it. A strategic partner wouldn’t necessarily provide new money, people familiar with the matter said.

    The discussions, while serious, remain fluid, these people said. None of the potential partners has committed financing for MGM.

    MGM declined to comment.

    Private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management owns Spyglass, which cofinanced recent hits Star Trek and G. I. Joe. Summit, the studio behind the lucrative Twilight vampire franchise, is backed by private-equity firms in addition to other investors.

    MGM’s creditors plan to meet with studio management soon to quiz them on different plans proffered by the possible partners, said a person familiar with the situation.

    MGM received a waiver on debt payments from creditors until July 14, its fifth reprieve since November. A recent auction failed to produce bids high enough to placate MGM’s creditors, many of whom want to recoup more than $2 billion.

    MGM is still exploring a roughly $1.5 billion bid from Time Warner Inc., but MGM’s creditors have signaled they’re no longer interested in parting with the studio.

    The creditors now plan to take over MGM through a debt-for-equity swap, most likely through a streamlined bankruptcy process that would garner approval from many creditors before a court filing.

    While numerous details of the creditors’ plans remain uncertain, their leading scenario involves bringing aboard a strategic partner to run the studio and receive an equity stake, one of the people familiar with the situation said. The creditors would own the rest of the studio after converting some or all of their debt to equity. The new partner could produce, market and distribute MGM’s films, said the person familiar with the situation.

    However, they still need to raise fresh funds. “Some capital has to be put up by somebody,” said a person familiar with the situation.

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  5. MGM wins fifth extension

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-13

    The Hollywood Reporter – MGM said Thursday the cash-strapped studio has won a fifth extension of the deadlines for forking over more than $400 million in debt and interest payments.

    Burdened by a crushing $3.7 billion in debt and a credit facility set to expire, the Lion first tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer for the studio and more recently has been searching for new equity investors to assist in a massive restructuring of the Century City studio. The latest debt forbearance gives MGM until July 14 to make payments to a large group of lenders, who are expected to end up with the majority of studio equity following a likely bankruptcy court-facilitated restructuring.

    The Lion had been under a May 15 debt-payments deadline, following previous extensions of separate deadlines on principal and interest payments.

    “Lenders agreed to extend the forbearance period and therefore will not seek remedies in connection with the nonpayment of interest and principal due on the company’s bank debt,” the studio announced in a brief press statement. “The lenders took this action in support of the company’s ongoing efforts to evaluate long-term strategic alternatives to maximize value for its stakeholders. MGM appreciates the continued support of its lender group for the process it is undertaking.”

    MGM has been using Moelis & Co. as a consultant in its search for financial alternatives. Houlihan Lokey is advising a JP Morgan-led steering committee of Lion debtholders.

    The studio and its lenders also have been meeting with industry VIPs such as Peter Chernin, Roger Birnbaum and others for input on its restructuring plans. Eventually, MGM may tap one of those giving advice as a replacement for current CEO Stephen Cooper, a veteran turnaround specialist who will move on once a restructuring is completed.

    MGM’s owners include Providence Equity, TPG Capital, Sony, Comcast, DLJ Merchant and Quadrangle. Most, if not all, would lose their positions in any restructuring.

    Time Warner topped bidders in a failed MGM auction with a $1.7 billion offer, but the Warner Bros. parent isn’t interested in partial ownership. On the other hand, TW could re-engage with the Lion at any point to negotiate a modestly increased bid for the entire studio.

    But for now ,companies such as News Corp., Qualia Capital and Lionsgate are in talks regarding more narrowly drawn investments in MGM.

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  6. MGM seeks new debt waiver

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-09

    The Wall Street Journal – Film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is in talks with creditors to get further leniency on its debt payments as the two sides continue negotiations about a restructuring plan, said people familiar with the matter.

    MGM, buckling under a nearly $4 billion debt load, wants lenders to grant a waiver on debt payments until at least the end of June and perhaps longer, these people said, adding that details haven’t been hammered out. MGM’s current waiver expires at the end of next week.

    The waiver request—MGM’s fifth since November—comes as the studio remains locked in negotiations over a restructuring plan that would hand control of the company to creditors.

    MGM declined to comment.

    MGM has focused its negotiations on a small group of hedge funds invested in the studio’s bank debt. These talks have become important because an auction earlier this year failed to yield bids that would placate the creditors.

    Creditors had held out for better offers as the studio’s bank debt traded around 60 cents on the dollar, which implied a value of around $2.4 billion. In the past month or so, the debt has plunged and now trades around 42 cents on the dollar.

    The creditors’ committee, led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hedge funds Anchorage Advisors and Highland Capital Management, is negotiating a plan to take control of MGM through a debt-for-equity swap, the people said. The plan would be implemented through a “prepackaged” bankruptcy, lining up many creditors’ approval prior to an actual filing.

    Those creditors have sought advice from other media executives on how to restructure the studio and potentially to manage the restructured company.

    Those they have met with include: former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, former Viacom Inc. executive Jonathan Dolgen, Spyglass Entertainment executives, Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth, Qualia Capital managing partner Amir Malin and Liberty Media Corp.’s Overture Films CEO Chris McGurk, they said.

    Some of those media executives couldn’t immediately be reached. Arnold Robinson, a spokesperson for Mr. Roth, however, said that the executive “is very, very happy with what he’s doing right now.” A spokesman for Mr. Chernin confirmed that a meeting with MGM and Mr. Chernin took place at the request of one of the creditors, but he added that running MGM is not something Mr. Chernin is actively pursuing. Two people close to Mr. McGurk, who helped turn around MGM once before as vice-chairman and chief operating officer, said he isn’t interested in returning.

    Some of these executives have proposed to help finance MGM, one of these people said. But creditors want to tap their own money to finance the studio, rather than dilute their holdings, this person said.

    Before pursuing a standalone plan, creditors had been hoping to fetch at least $2 billion for the studio in a sale. Time Warner Inc. made a bid for about $1.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said, and the offer remains on the table as the studio negotiates with creditors. Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said Wednesday that Time Warner doesn’t need MGM but a deal “could make sense” at the right price.

    Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries has dropped out of the bidding process, said a person familiar with the situation, and doesn’t appear inclined to provide any capital to the studio. Access declined to comment.

    MGM’s woes trace back to debt taken during a buyout that handed control to private-equity firms Providence Equity Partners, TPG, and media companies Sony Corp. and Comcast Corp.

    The studio released only one new film last year, and a recent release, Hot Tub Time Machine, had a soft landing at the box office. The family controlling MGM’s James Bond franchise recently shelved production of the next film.

    Turnaround specialist Stephen Cooper, brought in by MGM’s owners as part of a broad management shakeup in November, told lenders last month that the studio needed an additional $1 billion to finance six to eight new movies. It is unclear whether creditors are willing to support that level of investment, and some discussions have centered on giving MGM just $500 million.

    The people familiar with the deal said that creditors haven’t decided whether to leave some debt on the studio or to entirely clear the studio’s balance sheet. One person said creditors could aim to leave a little less than $1 billion in debt on MGM’s books.

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  7. Time Warner now lone MGM bidder

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-09

    Variety – Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries has dropped out of the bidding for beleaguered MGM, leaving only Time Warner Inc. as a potential buyer.

    Reps for MGM and Access had no comment but a source close to the situation indicated Friday that Access has withdrawn its offer after a deadline passed to accept the bid.

    For Blavatnik, buying MGM would have established him as a certified showbiz player, but one who would have probably sold off the rights to James Bond and the Hobbit. MGM put itself up for sale in November, drawing a trio of binding offers in mid-March. Lionsgate bailed out of the bidding a week later.

    The Time Warner and Access offers for MGM were believed to be in the $1.5 billion range, far below the $2 billion threshold price sought by MGM and its debtholders.

    MGM’s last announcement came on March 31 when it received 1 1/2 months of relief from payments on its debt, with its lenders agreeing to skip receiving payments until May 14—the fourth time since September that lenders to MGM have made such an agreement, aimed at giving CEO Stephen Cooper enough time to restructure the storied studio.

    MGM hasn’t commented since then but a knowledgeable source indicated Friday that the studio will probably seek another extension on the forebearance period on debt payments to support the studio’s ongoing efforts to improve its financial position.

    EON Prods. toppers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli jointly announced last month that they’ve put plans on hold for the next James Bond pic due to the “continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio.”

    MGM’s prospects received some positive news on Wednesday when Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said an acquisition of MGM “could make good sense” at the right price. Bewkes made the announcement during a conference call to discuss first-quarter earnings.

    MGM carries debts of $3.7 billion. MGM’s assets include its name and logo, the United Artists operations, a library with more than 4,000 titles, the James Bond franchise, half of The Hobbit franchise and a barebones film and TV operation.

    MGM’s lone release this year, Hot Tub Time Machine, has grossed $47 million after six weekends.

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  8. MGM lenders to vote on debt extension

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-06

    he Hollywood Reporter – Figure on yet another extension to MGM’s debt forbearance agreement.

    The Lion has gotten four such extensions previously, including one delaying more than $400 million in interest and principal payments until May 15. With a lenders steering committee set to meet Monday, electronic ballots will be sent early next week to a broader group of debtholders in an attempt to give MGM and its restructuring team even more breathing room.

    The proposal is expected to pass, giving MGM at least another several weeks to work on its restructuring.

    Strapped with a crushing $3.7 billion in debt, MGM and consultant Moelis & Co. tried unsuccessfully to find buyers for the studio and in recent weeks has been discussing with top industryites means of securing new capital to keep the lights burning in the Lion’s Century City lair. The process is expected eventually to result in two additional things: the appointment of a successor to current MGM CEO Stephen Cooper and a shift of most studio equity from a current consortium to the lenders group.

    MGM’s owners include Providence Equity, TPG Capital, Sony, Comcast, DLJ Merchant and Quadrangle.

    Cooper is a turnaround veteran brought in for the sale-or-restructuring process. Companies considering possible new equity investments in MGM include Lionsgate, Access Industries, News Corp. and Qualia Capital.

    Time Warner—which topped bidders in the failed MGM auction with a $1.7 billion offer—isn’t interested in partial ownership. The Warner Bros. parent could re-engage with the Lion in talks regarding a modestly increased bid for the entire studio, but that’s considered a long-shot scenario.

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  9. Time Warner says buying MGM makes sense at the right price

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-05-05

    Business Week – Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes said that buying the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. film studio ‘could make sense, but only at the right price.’

    Time Warner doesn’t need to buy the studio and has walked away from acquiring it before, Bewkes said in response to a question on the company’s earnings conference call today.

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  10. Pinewood Studios submits its Project Pinewood appeal

    By Devin Zydel on 2010-04-20

    Pinewood Studios has submitted to the Planning Inspectorate its appeal against the refusal of planning permission for Project Pinewood by South Bucks District Council (SBDC). The planning application for Project Pinewood, an innovative and groundbreaking proposal to create a purpose-built living and working community for film, television and the creative industries, was submitted to SBDC in June 2009. The proposal was refused at planning committee in October 2009.

    Pinewood and its advisors have continued to discuss issues relating to the planning application and appeal with key stakeholders since determination of the planning application. This is part of an ongoing programme of consultation which will continue over the coming months. The Planning Inspectorate will now determine the appropriate means of progressing the case and Pinewood will continue to work closely with
    stakeholders throughout this process.

    Project Pinewood will build on Pinewood’s success and reputation and enable it to remain at the forefront of international film and television production. The project will comprise a purpose-built living and working community for film, television and the creative industries. Located next to and linked with Pinewood, it will also provide a hub for the growth of the UK’s international status as a centre for creative excellence. It is estimated that Project Pinewood will create approximately 960 permanent jobs and generate over £60 million per annum of Gross Value Added to the UK economy. A significant proportion of the employment generated by Project Pinewood would be available to residents of the region.

    A key element of Project Pinewood is its emphasis on developing skills in the creative industries. Building on the recent launch of Pinewood’s new apprenticeship scheme, a purpose-built Screen Crafts Academy will provide opportunities and facilities for vocational education, training and employment.

    Speaking about the appeal submission, Andrew M. Smith, Group Director Corporate Affairs for Pinewood commented: “Project Pinewood is just as important as ever to the UK. Locally, unemployment in South Bucks rose by approximately 57% in 2009. It is also essential for the UK’s creative industries. Recent estimates have shown that the creative industries account for 6.2% of Gross Value Added in the UK, underlining the importance of the sector to the UK economy.”

    “This proposal has received widespread support from sections of the local community as well as a broad range of business leaders and industry commentators. This is a project of national and regional significance and the economic benefits will be considerable.”

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