AMC could be­come largest movie chain

$1.2 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Carmike chain would bring screen to­tal to lead­ing 8,218

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AI HEPING in New York ai­hep­ing@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Chi­nese-owned AMC En­ter­tain­ment Hold­ings on Tues­day won ap­proval from share­hold­ers of Carmike Cin­e­mas, the fourth-largest US movie chain, for a $1.2 bil­lion buy­out that will make AMC the world’s largest movie ex­hibitor.

Georgia-based Carmike said 72 per­cent of the com­pany’s shares were voted in fa­vor of merg­ing its 2,954 screens largely in ru­ral or sub­ur­ban ar­eas with AMC, which is in ur­ban mar­kets.

Buy­ing Carmike will make AMC the na­tion’s largest movie chain with 8,218 screens, more than Re­gal En­ter­tain­ment Group’s 7,310 screens. Cine­mark, the third-largest, has 4,542 screens. AMC bought the smaller Starplex Cin­e­mas’ 346 screens last year.

US Jus­tice De­part­ment ap­proval is needed for the merger, and Lea­wood, Kansas-based

David Pass­man, pres­i­dent and CEO of Carmike Cin­e­mas

AMC has said it could come as early as next month. AMC chief Adam Aron has said AMC ex­pects to di­vest “a lim­ited num­ber of theaters” to sat­isfy of­fi­cials and has al­ready be­gun look­ing for buy­ers. He said AMC will spend “lit­er­ally hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars” up­grad­ing Carmike theaters, with some keep­ing the Carmike name and oth­ers will take on AMC’s.

AMC is a sub­sidiary of the Chi­nese real es­tate and en­ter­tain­ment con­glom­er­ate Dalian Wanda Group, which ac­quired it for $2.6 bil­lion in 2012. Wanda op­er­ates China’s largest theater chain, and is owned by Wang Jian­lin, China’s rich­est man.

Dalian Wanda bought Dark Knight pro­ducer Leg­endary En­ter­tain­ment for $3.5 bil­lion this year and re­cently paid $1 bil­lion for Dick Clark Pro­duc­tions, pro­ducer of live events, such as the Golden Globe Awards, the Amer­i­can Mu­sic Awards and ABC TV’s peren­nial Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve spe­cial.

AMC’s orig­i­nal bid of $1.1 bil­lion for Carmike was an­nounced in March 2016, but large in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors with stakes in Carmike ob­jected and pushed for a big­ger buy­out.

Carmike share­hold­ers are to re­ceive a com­bi­na­tion of cash and shares of AMC En­ter­tain­ment Hold­ings Inc equal to $33.06 for each share of the theater chain that they own.

“We are pleased with the out­come of to­day’s vote,” David Pass­man, Carmike pres­i­dent and CEO, said in a state­ment af­ter the share­holder vote at a meet­ing in At­lanta.

The com­bi­na­tion of AMC with Carmike, along with AMC’s planned $650 mil­lion purchase of Odeon & UCI Cin­e­mas Group, Europe’s largest, would give AMC 900 theater lo­ca­tions, mak­ing it the world’s largest. Odeon/UCI has 242 cin­e­mas and 2,236 screens mainly in the UK, Spain, Italy and Ger­many, with some screens in Aus­tria.

We are pleased with the out­come of to­day’s vote.”

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