Cineworld, the UK’s largest cinema operator, is set to buy one of Europe’s biggest cinema businesses, in a cash and shares deal worth about £500m.
The British cinema chain, which already owns UGC cinemas, Cineworld cinemas and the art house brand Picturehouse, is adding Poland’s Cinema City International (CCI) to its portfolio, which will take the number of screens the company manages from 102, to about 2,000.
The deal will put the company in an enviable position in Poland, Israel, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Slovakia, as audiences in Eastern Europe are growing fast.
Cineworld chairman Anthony Bloom said the deal was “an exciting and unique opportunity” for the company.
“Cinema City is an extremely well-run and dynamic business, which creates a platform for further growth in future,” he added.
Under the deal, CCI will receive a 24.9% stake in the merged business, and the company will be run by current Cinema City chief executive Mooky Greidinger.
Greidinger’s family founded the predecessor to Cinema City in 1929, opening its first cinema in Haifa, Israel, in 1931.
Greidinger will take the reins from Steve Wiener, the founder of Cineworld, who recently announced his intention to retire as chief executive after 44 years in the industry.
Cineworld floated on the Stock Exchange in 2007, and operates the ten highest grossing cinemas in the UK and Ireland.