Multiplex chain Cineworld to buy Cinema City for £500 million

Multiplex chain Cineworld has announced plans to buy out one of Europe's largest cinema operators in a deal that would boost its presence to nearly 2000 screens.

The proposed tie-up with Cinema City, would offer it leading positions in Poland, Israel, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Slovakia.

The cash-and-share deal, set for completion in March, values Cinema City at around £500 million.

Cineworld Group currently has operations across 102 sites under the Cineworld and Picturehouse brands, which include five out of the 10 highest-grossing cinemas in the UK and Ireland last year.

The merged group would have 201 outlets and 1852 screens across Europe, with the addition of 966 from Cinema City, which would make it second largest operator in Europe behind Odeon UCI, with over 2100 screens.

The new company would be managed by current Cinema City chief executive Mooky Greidinger, whose family started the predecessor to Cinema City in 1929, opening its first cinema in Haifa, Israel, in 1931.

Cinema City operated solely in Israel until 1997, when the company expanded into central and eastern Europe with the launch of operations in Hungary.

According to Cineworld, the deal offered attractive prospects in developing economies where the presence of multiplex screens was still low.

According to Cineworld chairman Anthony Bloom, the deal offered exposure to some of the most promising cinema markets in Europe.

He added, Cinema City was an extremely well-run and dynamic business, which created a platform for further growth in future.

Bloom described Greidinger as a highly respected and very experienced cinema executive. According to Greidinger, the deal brought together ''two equals in size.''