London audio post-production facility De Lane Lea has been bought by a US company which pledges to make the facility a rival to those in Hollywood, writes Sam Espensen.
Acena, a new film investment outfit that as yet owns no other UK companies, completed the deal last week for an undisclosed fee. The sale ends months of speculation about the future of the Dean Street facility. Launched in 1953, the company employs 35 people and had previously gone through a management buy-in in 1998. The previous majority shareholder was the Dutch investment bank Vreedenlust.
Speaking exclusively to Broadcast, managing director Peter Joly confirmed that the company had been "in need of new investment. A lot of the original investors had gone and the major shareholder was feeling exposed. We thought that it would be better to have financial backers or shareholders from inside the industry."
He commented that after joining De Lane Lea last year, he brought with him a lot of new plans but that Vreedenlust "felt nervous about putting new money in".
Joly believed that Acena's approach will be very light-handed. "They've seen us as a company that fills a gap in their business plan," he said. "As long as we show the profits they expect I'm sure they won't interfere." He also stressed that the facility remains interested in broadcast work as well as film. "It's very important to have a mixture - broadcast, film and our new strand of multimedia and gaming are all important."
Changes are already underway at the company's offices, with a "home base" for clients being created in the neighbouring building. Currently, it has five mixing studios and one for recording, along with 33 cutting rooms. Joly claimed that by January, De Lane Lea's Studio 1, which will be equipped with large format AMS Neve DFC consoles, will "rival the most powerful stages in Hollywood. The size and power of the desk will make it as, if not more, powerful than anything seen away from the west coast of America."
The facility's credits include Hulk, Cold Mountain, Monarch of the Glen and The Deal.