AMC Entertainment Holdings, the Leawood-based theater chain controlled by Asia’s second-richest man, is preparing a bid for Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, sources told Bloomberg News.
The European company is valued at about $1.3 billion, the sources said.
AMC, majority owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, recently began preparing an offer for the cinema chain owned by Guy Hands’ Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd., the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
The purchase would give AMC many more cinemas in Europe and comes after repeated public denials by Wang of interest in bidding for Odeon & UCI. A sale would also finally give Hands and Terra Firma an exit from the cinema business after a number of unsuccessful attempts to sell it that date back to 2011.
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Representatives for AMC, Dalian Wanda and Terra Firma declined to comment.
Odeon & UCI operates 243 theaters and 2,238 screens from the United Kingdom and Ireland to Spain and Germany, according to its website.
AMC is already in the midst of a $1.1 billion acquisition of Carmike Cinemas, the No. 4 U.S. theater chain, though several shareholders are opposing the sale under agreed terms, saying the price is too low. Both deals would increase the size of AMC by more than 50 percent in terms of revenue.