Film studio owner Pinewood Shepperton plc, famed for the James Bond and Harry Potter films, unveiled a joint venture to develop its business as it reported a big jump in first half profits.

Shares in the company, Europe's top provider of studios to the international film industry, soared 7.1 percent on the news to 215 pence by 9:05 a.m. on Wednesday.

Operating profit jumped to 3.6 million pounds in the six months to June 30 from 1.4 million pounds last year, on turnover up 41 percent at 18.7 million pounds.

In addition, the firm said it had formed a 50:50 joint venture with Morley Fund Management Ltd, the UK-based asset management arm of financial services group Aviva Plc.

Morley paid 10.5 million pounds in cash for a stake in the venture, named Shepperton Studio Property Partnership, as well as a long term loan for 20 million pounds.

The deal would speed up plans to develop Shepperton Studios, just outside London, Pinewood Chief Executive Ivan Dunleavy told a conference call.

The big news today is the signing of a joint venture with Morley to fund the development of the Shepperton site, said KBC Peel Hunt in a research note.

Pinewood said its strong first half earnings were boosted by films such as Casino Royale, the latest James Bond adventure, and fantasy story Stardust using its facilities.

At present The Bourne Ultimatum the next instalment in the action series starring U.S. actor Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is being shot there.

Dunleavy said a better understanding of a government tax policy for the film industry, which had discouraged big name productions from shooting in Britain last year, was making the country a more attractive location.

We expect to see a return to a more normal film production environment by the end of 2006 with larger film productions once again committing to filming in the UK for the future, he said in a statement.

As a result, the company expected a satisfactory outcome for the full year.

Shepperton Studios, which opened in 1932, and Pinewood Studios, created in 1935, merged in 2001. They floated on the London stock market three years later and bought Teddington Studios in 2005.

Among a string of blockbusters shot at Pinewood, are the first four Harry Potter wizard movies and 19 of the 21 James Bond films.