By Reuters
November 28, 2017

Cineworld Group, a British operator of movie theaters, is in talks with U.S. peer Regal Entertainment about a potential merger, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

A deal between the two would put the combined company in a better position to take market share from industry leader AMC Entertainment, and also give it more scale to fight increasing competition from Netflix Inc, Apple Inc and other digital outlets.

Cineworld’s offer values Regal at around $23 per share, one of the sources said. There is no certainty the discussions will lead to a deal, the sources added, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.

Cineworld and Regal Entertainment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Regal shares jumped as much as 16% after Reuters reported the deal talks. They were up 7.5% at $19.63 in late afternoon trading in New York, giving the company a market value of about $3 billion. Cineworld has a market value of 1.9 billion pounds ($2.5 billion), making its offer for Regal an attempted reverse merger.

Regal’s top shareholder is Anschutz, led by Denver-based dealmaker and billionaire Phil Anschutz. While Anschutz owns just over 10% of Regal, it controls the company through a separate class of voting stock.

Regal Entertainment hired an investment bank in 2014 to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential sale, but later shelved those plans.

The last major deal in the sector was in December 2016, when AMC completed its acquisition of Carmike Cinemas for about $1.1 billion.

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