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U.K. Exhibitor Cineworld's Purchase of Picturehouse Cinemas To Be Investigated

Movie Theater Audience - H 2012
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British competition authorities will look into the possibility that the deal will reduce local competition for cinemagoers.

LONDON – U.K. exhibition chain Cineworld's $76 million purchase of City Screen Group, the parent company of arthouse movie theater operator Picturehouse Cinemas, is to be investigated by British competition authorities.

Cineworld, listed here on the stock exchange, told the market the local Office of Fair Trading has referred the buyout to the Competition Commission "because of concerns that it may reduce local competition in certain areas."

Cineworld, the U.K.'s second largest exhibition chain, said it will assist the Competition Commission with its investigation.

Before the deal was struck, Cineworld operated 80 sites, of which 77 are multiplex sites with five screens or more.

The deal adds 21 sites and 60 screens to Cineworld's real estate and also Picturehouse Entertainment, the distribution arm operated by the group.