Cineworld sells one cinema & acquires five Empire sites for £94m

The Cineworld Group has acquired five cinemas, totalling 64 screens, from Cinema Holdings, the holding company of Empire Cinemas. In turn, Empire has purchased the three-screen historic Cineworld Haymarket in Central London. Cineworld will pay Empire an aggregate consideration of £94m for the transaction.

In 2012, Cineworld acquired the Picturehouse chain consisting of 21 cinemas, and in 2014, they combined with Cinema City. With the Empire deal, the enlarged group will have 222 sites and more than 2,000 screens across the UK and Ireland, keeping it the second-largest cinema business in Europe after the Odeon UCI group.

The Empire cinemas purchased by Cineworld are: the nine-screen Empire Leicester Square multiplex (pictured), a leading London West End venue for movie premieres, which has a laser IMAX screen; an 18-screen multiplex in Basildon, which has an IMAX screen; a 17-screen multiplex in Hemel Hempstead, which has an IMAX screen; a 16-screen multiplex in Poole, which has an IMAX screen; and a smaller, four-screen cinema in Bromley in Greater London. The Leicester Square, Basildon, Hemel Hempstead and Poole cinemas will take on Cineworld branding, while management is considering converting the Bromley cinema into a Picturehouse.

Thomas Anderson, chairman of Empire, said, “I’m pleased to have found the ideal partner in Cineworld to buy these sites. Their reputation as good operators gives me confidence in a bright future for the cinemas and their employees, and as a shareholder in Cineworld, I trust the company's ownership will enable it to maximise the value of these premium assets as part of its continued growth.”

Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said, “This acquisition brings Cineworld five modern and well-invested venues complementary to our existing estate, including the iconic Leicester Square cinema in the heart of London’s West End.

'It underscores our commitment to operating high-quality and modern cinemas across all of our nine operating countries, and our mission to be the best place to watch a movie.

'I'm delighted that the Anderson family, well-known cinema-industry veterans, have entrusted these sites to us. We welcome them as shareholders in Cineworld and look forward to delivering increased returns to all of our investors from integrating these cinemas into our group.”