U.S. theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd, announced on Tuesday it will acquire London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, Europe's largest cinema operator.
The U.S. group said the deal will create the world's largest movie theater chain－and Wanda will further improve its network of movie theater chains in China, North America and Europe. This is the first investment by Wanda in European theater chains.
AMC said it has entered a definitive agreement to buy Odeon & UCI from private equity firm Terra Firma for 921 million pounds (.22 billion). In addition AMC will take on the net debt of Odeon & UCI worth 407 million pounds, according to the statement.
"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," said CEO Adam Aron, who indicated that Britain's decision to leave the European Union had been a factor in the move.
"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," he said.
The transaction is conditional on antitrust clearance by the European Commission and is subject to consultation with the European Works Council, Wanda said in a statement.
With 242 theaters and 2,236 screens, Odeon & UCI is the top theater operator in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Spain. It's also one of the biggest operators in Portugal, Austria and Germany.
Odeon & UCI achieved sales revenue of more than .1 billion in the past 12 months, with a 20 percent of market share in Europe. The combination of AMC and Odeon & UCI will result in AMC's operation controlling 627 theaters with more than 7,600 screens in eight countries.
"As an innovator in guest experience, AMC is the ideal partner for the next stage of our long-term growth in Europe," said Paul Donovan, CEO of Odeon & UCI.
"With a strong future film slate and the unparalleled expertise of our combined teams, there are exciting opportunities ahead and strong prospects for growth."