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U.K. Exhibitor Cineworld Inks Deal With Europe's Cinema City International

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The U.K.'s largest movie theater operator will buy around 100 multiplexes across eastern Europe and Israel for $828 million in cash and stock.

LONDON – The U.K.'s largest movie theater operator, Cineworld, said on Friday it is to buy around 100 multiplexes across eastern Europe and Israel via a mix of cash and shares worth $828 million (£503 million).

Cineworld is buying the theaters from Cinema City International (CCI), listed on the Warsaw stock market in Poland.

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The Britain-based exhibition company will pay CCI $448 million (£272 million) in cash, and has launched a $181 million (£110 million) share rights issue to help fund the purchase.

Cineworld chairman Anthony Bloom, in a statement to the U.K. stock exchange where his business is listed, described the deal as "an exciting and unique opportunity."

Audiences in eastern Europe are growing fast, with Bloom noting that the move would give Cineworld exposure to "some of the most promising cinema markets in Europe."

CCI has cinema sites across mainland Europe, including in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Israel and Hungary.

The combined group will have 201 sites and 1,852 screens.

Under the deal, CCI will get a 24.9 percent stake in the merged business.

Cineworld's U.K. exhibition rival Vue Entertainment agreed to buy Poland's second-largest multiplex operator, Multikino, last year.

Cineworld, which floated on the stock exchange in 2007, operates the 10 highest-grossing cinemas in the U.K. and Ireland, with this proposed deal marking its first international move.

Cineworld also snapped up 21 Picturehouse sites last year.