Cineworld Group in talks to acquire US peer Regal Entertainment for $3.6bn

NEW YORK/LONDON: Cineworld Group Plc, a British operator of movie theatres, is in talks to acquire US peer Regal Entertainment Group for approximately $3.6 billion in cash, the companies said.
A deal between the two would put the combined company in a better position to take market share from US industry leader AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, and also give it more scale to fight increasing competition from Netflix Inc, Apple Inc and other digital outlets.
Regal said in a statement that Cineworld’s all-cash offer values it at $23 per share, confirming an earlier report.
No agreement has been reached and there is no assurance that any transaction will result, Regal added.
Cineworld added in a separate statement released later that it was in advanced discussions to acquire Regal and was finalising due diligence on its offer.
Cineworld said it would finance its bid through a “mixture of incremental debt and a material equity raise by way of a rights issue, including a commitment to full subscription” from its largest shareholder, Global City Holdings.
Global City Holdings is a Polish holding company that owns entertainment and real estate businesses in Europe and Israel.
Global City owns 28 per cent of Cineworld, according to data.
Regal shares jumped as much as 16 per cent after media reported the deal talks.
They closed up 7.6 per cent at $19.63 in New York, giving the company a market value of about $3 billion.
Cineworld has a market value of £1.9 billion ($2.5 billion).
Other movie theatre operators’ shares also shot higher; AMC rose 8.4 per cent to close at $16.15 while Cinemark Holdings rose 3.7 per cent to $36.19.
Movie technology firm Imax Corp closed up 5.6 per cent at $26.40.
Regal’s top shareholder is Anschutz Corp, led by Denver-based dealmaker and billionaire Phil Anschutz.
While Anschutz Corp owns just over 10 per cent of Regal, it controls the company through a separate class of voting stock.
Regal Entertainment, which owns 561 theatres with 7,315 screens, hired an investment bank in 2014 to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential sale, but later shelved those plans.— Reuters