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Chinese cinema chain buys AMC in US

By PETER WHITE

Published: 1 June, 2012

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The deal to sell AMC Entertainment Holdings, once of America's largest Cinema groups to a Chinese entertainment conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group, is one of those deals where the US vendor saw the foreign buyer coming.

AMC had filed for an IPO as long ago as 2010 but never found the right time or price to go public. It had previously done the same in 2006 and is still owned, by Private Equity Groups Apollo Global Management, Bain Capital, the Carlyle Group, CCMP Capital Advisors and Spectrum Equity Investors. It also used to have JP Morgan Partners as an owner, but that was not alluded to in the statement, so it must have passed on its shareholding.

AMC is the second largest cinema chain in the US after the Regal Entertainment Group, which itself has spent long periods in Chapter XII bankruptcy before a series of mergers took it to about 1,000 screens ahead of AMC, with revenues of about $200 million a year more (around $2.6 billion). Between them they control over 11,000 US screens, out of around 38,000 in the US (2009 figure).

Despite what both companies say, the state of US cinema is nothing like it is in China right now. In China it is on the way up, in the Us, on the way down. The AMC founder was attributed with the idea of Multiplexes, based on the thought that the same number of staff could support up to ten separate screens, if the programs start at different times. But the US has long gone past the days where it has built new multiplexes at the expense of theatre conversions into single screen cinemas, while in China and other parts of Asia, the cinema and the introduction of multiplexes are a recent phenomenon and still many people have yet to experience a visit to the cinema.

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