The Mill prepares to buy back 3i's stake

The London-based post-production company The Mill has appointed the investment bank Long Acre Partners as it prepares for a potential secondary buyout or initial public offer.

The visual effects outfit is looking to end its relationship with the venture capital company 3i, which has owned a significant stake in the company since it backed its management buyout in February 2001. The Mill's co-founders, Robin Shenfield, Pat Joseph and James Morris, will remain majority shareholders in any deal, which will include the company's content management and delivery business, Beam.tv.

In The Mill's 2001 management buyout, the rock group U2 and Shepperton Holdings, which owned 35 and 40 per cent of the company respectively, sold their shares for £28 million. The deal was backed by 3i and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Mill was founded in 1990 as London's first all-digital post-production facility. The company's now-defunct film division won an Oscar for its visual-effects work on the film Gladiator in 2000.