AMC to Buy Europe’s Largest Movie Chain Odeon & UCI

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) said Tuesday that it agreed to buy European movie theater operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group for 921 million pounds ($1.2 billion) in cash and stock, help by the weaker British pound after Brexit vote.

AMC, which is majority owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co., said the deal will make the company the world’s largest movie theater operator.  Odeon & UCI operates 2,236 screens in 242 theaters in seven European countries, including in the U.K., Spain and Italy.

AMC said the deal to buy Odeon & UCI is valued at 921 million pounds, including 500 million pounds for the equity, 75 percent in cash and 25 percent in stock, and 407 million pounds in debt.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire Europe’s leading cinema chain and create the world’s biggest and best theater operator,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “With this opportunistic transaction, AMC will be extending the reach of our proven guest experience strategies to transform the movie-going experience for millions of moviegoers in Europe.”

In the other hand, AMC said that the company intends to pursue its delayed deal with Carmike Cinemas Inc. after some Carmike’s stockholders concerns that the price of $30 a share is too low.

“We intend to continue to work this week with Carmike to see if the AMC/Carmike transaction can be saved, but we again note that the economics of a transaction get marginal very quickly for AMC above the $30 deal price,” the company said.

AMC is the No.2 cinema chain in U.S. and operates 5,380 screens in 385 locations. China’s Dalian Wanda bought AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion and the Chinese company continues to build its entertainment empire by merger and acquisition. Wanda will become the first company to operate more than 10,000 screens after the deal with Odeon & UCI.

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