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Vue would overtake AMC as top theater chain with Cineworld takeover

Tim Baysinger
Feb 14, 2023
Data: Company data; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Company data; Chart: Axios Visuals

The global theater industry may be set for a shake-up at the top.

Why it matters: Vue International is said to be pursuing a bid for Cineworld. If its takeover attempt is victorious, a combined company would surpass AMC as the world's largest theater chain by number of screens.

Driving the news: Sky News reported Monday that Barings and Farallon Capital Management are backing Vue as it bids for the beleaguered theater chain currently in bankruptcy.

  • Vue, which operates theaters mostly in Europe and is Cineworld's biggest competitor in the U.K., would gain its first U.S. presence — and it would be a hefty one via Regal Cinemas, the country's second-largest chain.
  • "While it would therefore be premature to speculate about any acquisitions at this stage, we continually evaluate a range of possible opportunities," a Vue spokesperson tells Axios.

The big picture: AMC has been the top theater chain since 2016, but outside of picking up stray theaters — which it tried to do last year with Cineworld —  there aren't many obvious M&A candidates to reclaim the top spot.

  • After using its status as a meme stock to raise cash during theater closures and avoid Cineworld's bankruptcy fate, AMC is still trying to find new ways of raising capital, such as converting its APE shares into common shares or raising the price of movie tickets.
  • AMC's stock price is trading roughly where it was before it rode the meme stock wave in 2021.
  • Last year, CEO Adam Aron said investors should no longer look at AMC as just a theater company and that it would make more investments such as its stake in gold and silver mining company Hycroft.

What's next: Non-binding bids for Cineworld are due by Thursday, and the company has its next day in bankruptcy court on Feb. 21.

  • Vue is vying with 30 other potential buyers that Cineworld has gauged interest in. Cineworld's legacy lenders are also a potential bidder as they negotiate a possible debt-to-equity agreement.
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