Soho post-production facility The Mill has been bought by private equity firm the Carlyle Group for an undisclosed sum.
Soho post-production facility The Mill has been bought by private equity firm the Carlyle Group for an undisclosed sum.

The deal brings to an end a five-year investment in The Mill by venture capitalist firm 3i, which backed a management buyout in February 2001.

Former Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO chief executive Michael Baulk has been appointed as chairman, but The Mill's chief executive, Robin Shenfield, will continue to run the company with creative director Pat Joseph. Shenfield and his management team will own 'a substantial portion' of the business after the deal is completed.

Baulk, who left AMV last June after 20 years, is also executive chairman of corporate publishing company Cedar Communications.

The Carlyle Group associate director Chris Hodges predicted that The Mill's high-end post-production and visual effects services would continue to thrive in an era of increasingly cross-platform production. He said: 'We believe high-end video-based advertising will continue to play a fundamentally important role in brand strategy, with post-production providing impact and differentiation on television, internet and other video platforms. The Mill's well-invested technology base, pool of outstanding creative talent and its content distribution capability via Beam.TV enables it to provide outstanding service.'

The Mill's announcement last autumn that it was seeking a new investor, led to companies including Thomson, WPP and Tag being touted as possible contenders. Technology group Thomson bought effects specialist MPC from ITV for £52.7m
in 2004 and WPP owns The Farm.

The Mill was founded by Shenfield and Joseph in 1990, and now has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. Currently the high-end visual effects group employs more than 150 staff in a 30,000sq ft production facility in Soho, with 70 staff at its New York office and 12 professional and technical staff in LA. Recent broadcast contracts include Doctor Whoand its spin-off Torchwood.

The facility also owns Beam.TV, a global advertising distribution business which uses the internet to deliver digital advertising across different platforms and countries. Today, around 50% of all television commercials broadcast in the UK are delivered by Beam.TV.

Recently named as the world's number one post-production house by Shots magazine (published by Emap), The Mill's numerous award-winning productions include work for Sony PlayStation, Honda and Guinness. It won an Academy Award in 2001 for Gladiator.

The Carlyle Group is based in Washington, DC and runs offices in Europe and Asia.

The global private equity fund has invested more than $24bn since 1987, with one-third of its assets in the telecoms and media sector, including French newspaper Le Figaro and marketing company Nielsen.