DRC Capital, the London-based debt fund manager, has agreed to provide finance to fund the £323.3 million purchase of Pinewood Group, which owns the iconic Pinewood Studios complex in Buckinghamshire.
Pinewood Group is being acquired by a vehicle owned by Aermont Capital, the investment firm led by former Unibail Rodamco chief executive Leon Bressler. Aermont is in the process of buying Pinewood Group by way of a scheme of arrangement through a subsidiary called Picture Holdco Limited.
DRC is providing the debt through its European Real Estate Debt II and DRC European Real Estate Debt III funds. The funds are arrangers and original lenders in the transaction, according to an announcement by law firm Paul Hastings, which acted for the funds.
The size of the financing was not disclosed, although Real Estate Capital understands that the total amount of debt relating to Pinewood Group equates to around 64 percent of the purchase price, including DRC’s facility and existing debt held by the group. DRC’s loan has a term in the region of three years.
DRC is understood to be providing senior debt, which it is likely to retain.
The deal represents a major financing for DRC, which provides whole loan, mezzanine and senior debt and is believed to have won the Pinewood deal due to its ability to arrange the loan within a short period of time.
As well as Pinewood Studios, Pinewood Group owns studios in London’s Shepperton, Cardiff and further afield in Canada, the US and Malaysia. Films made at the Buckinghamshire studios include the James Bond franchise and the original Superman. The much-anticipated eighth episode of the Star Wars saga is due to be filmed at the studios this year.
On 28 July, Pinewood said that due diligence has been completed on the deal and the next stage is for financing arrangements to be finalised, a process which could take up to four weeks. Bressler, the managing partner of Aermont, described Pinewood as an “iconic brand at the heart of the global creative industries”.
“The transformation of the business in recent years has been considerable and it is clear that there are more ambitions to be realised,” he added.
In December, Aermont, formerly known as PW Real Assets, held a first close on Fund III garnering €1.5 billion in commitments, five months after launching the vehicle. The platform was the firm’s first fund since its spin-off last summer from its parent company, the New York-based boutique bank and adviser Perella Weinberg Partners.