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INDUSTRY Ireland

Olcott Entertainment completes acquisition of Ardmore Studios

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- Ireland's most important film-complex acquisition has been finalised, led by investor Joe Devine, the chairman of Limerick's Troy Studios

Olcott Entertainment completes acquisition of Ardmore Studios

Irish firm Olcott Entertainment Limited has officially announced the full acquisition of Ardmore, the Republic of Ireland's most storied film studios, after purchasing the shares owned by Ardmore Studios Limited (68%) and Enterprise Ireland (32%). Founded in 1958 and based in Bray, Ardmore Studios has played a substantial role in fostering the growth of the local industry, being home to a number of international audiovisual productions such as Braveheart, The Turning, The Tudors, Penny Dreadful, Excalibur and countless others.

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Ardmore's successful productions have received 14 Academy Awards and many BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Emmy Awards. Nonetheless, the crash of the so-called Celtic Tiger and mounting debts almost caused the complex to close down in 2012. Thanks to the approval of a tax relief scheme for investments in Irish productions and some remarkable financial management in recent times, Ardmore Studios reported a profit of about €2.7 million over the last two years. Nonetheless, the facilities have been put on the market, ready to be sold to potential international investors.

Even though the final price of the deal has not been disclosed yet, it is estimated at between €15 million and €20 million. The agreement has been reached thanks to the efforts of Joe Devine, co-founder of the investment company Ion Equity and chairman of a rival studio complex, Limerick's Troy Studios. Olcott, the company behind the acquisition, was only formed in February, and the names of the other investors have not been revealed.

Devine is pleased about the acquisition of Ardmore and stated that all of the employees, including CEO Siún Ní Raghallaigh, will continue to work under his management. Speaking about long-term plans, he added: “Our interest in the sector is against a backdrop of significant global demand for content and thus for production facilities. The drive for more content is fuelled by ‘big screen’ film, increasingly ‘on-demand TV’ and the gaming industry. When coupled with Ireland having one of the most attractive incentive schemes in the world, it makes Ardmore an attractive asset. We have ambitious plans for the business and believe this heralds a new era for these historic studios.”

Finally, the Irish Film Board (IFB), the country's film agency and major funding body, has also welcomed the news of the acquisition positively. The official communiqué released by the IFB and published on Ardmore's website states: “The studios continue to represent a vitally important part of the infrastructure of the Irish film industry. It is very heartening to hear about the commitment of the new owners to their investment in and the development of these historic studios.”

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