Warren James buys stake in Harry Potter studio

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Discount jeweller stands in way of takeover bid in mystery move.

High street discount jeweller Warren James has bought a stake in the movie studio behind the James Bond and Harry Potter movie franchises.

It is unclear as to why the jeweller has purchased a 15% stake in Pinewood Shepperton but it has caused some major problems for a planned takeover of the movie business by Peel Holdings.

Peel Holdings had been in the process of making a takeover bid at 200p a share, which was agreed upon in April, but this has been thrown into jeopardy after Warren James bought 4 million shares in the company.

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Warren James’ stake will not allow it to block the takeover deal because Peel Holdings only needs the backing of 50.1% of shares and already owns 29.8%, but it might stop Peel Holdings from forcing minority shareholders out of the company.

There has been no word from Warren James as to why it is buying into Pinewood but some reports have claimed that it could be trying to force a higher offer from Peel Holdings or acting on a belief that a rival suitor could enter the frame. There have also been reports that a Swiss investment fund is believed to be running a sliderule across the company.

Peel Holding’s bid for Pinewood has attracted the support of activist shareholder Crystal Amber, which owns around 28.9% but it backing for the Peel bid can be withdrawn if a new bidder comes in with a proposal worth not less than 250p a share.

On news of Warren James’ purchase the Pinewood shares price rose to 212p.

Warren James was founded by brother and sister team John Coulter and Ann Jones. The pair appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List this year but appeared to have enjoyed a less fortuitous year than the one before. The duo dropped down the list from 424th place to 694th place with a wealth of £103 million, a drop of £51 million since last year.

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