AMC Entertainment to Buy Europe’s Biggest Theater Chain for $1.2 Billion

AMC Theatres announced deal to acquire London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group

China-controlled AMC Entertainment continues its global expansion, announcing plans on Tuesday to acquire Europe’s largest movie theater chain for $1.2 billion.

London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group has been in the hands of Guy Hands’ Terra Firma private equity outfit.

AMC, which is also finalizing its acquisition of Georgia-based U.S. exhibitor Carmike, announced it would pay 75 percent in cash and 25 percent in stock for Odeon. The companies expect to complete the deal by the end of the year.

Odeon & UCI oversee 242 theaters and 2,236 screens, selling 90 million tickets annually, according to MarketWatch.

With the acquisitions, AMC’s holdings would include 627 theaters and 7,600-plus screens in eight countries.

“While we acknowledge that there are some uncertainties related to Brexit, we are encouraged that current currency rates are highly favorable to AMC with the pound falling to a three decade low versus the dollar,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

AMC Theatres is owned by the AMC Entertainment Group, a majority-owned subsidiary of China’s Dalian Wanda Group. Wanda Group already runs China’s largest exhibitor.

In March, AMC announced plans to acquire Carmike for roughly $1.1 billion in a deal that would create the world’s largest theater chain.

“AMC remains committed to moving forward with our plan to acquire Carmike Cinemas,” Aron said Tuesday.

But Aron repeated his warning from June 30 that the Carmike deal was “at considerable risk.”

“Some Carmike shareholders have an unrealistic view as to Carmike’s value to AMC, and their resulting price expectations are simply beyond what AMC believes is prudent to pay,” he said.