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U.K. cinema giant Cineworld, which currently has no theaters in the United States, said Friday that its shareholders have approved the company’s $3.6 billion deal to acquire U.S. exhibition powerhouse Regal Entertainment Group.
The transaction, expected to close by early March, would make Cineworld the second-biggest movie exhibitor in the U.S., putting it in a better position to compete with AMC Theatres and possibly giving Cineworld more leverage in negotiations with Hollywood studios.
Regal had been in a “go shop” period in which it could seek a better offer, but the deadline for such a move expired Jan. 22. Israel’s Greidinger family, which gave the company strong support for the Regal deal going into the shareholder vote, owns roughly 29 percent of Cineworld.
“We envision minimal risk around the Cineworld shareholder vote, financing and/or regulatory approvals,” B. Riley FBR analyst Eric Wold said ahead of Friday’s vote.
However, in late January, shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services told investors to oppose the deal, citing “significant financial and operation risks.”
More than 87 percent of votes cast at the meeting were in favor of the Regal deal.
Cineworld, led by CEO Moshe “Mooky” Greidinger, operates more than 2,200 screens in nine European countries, making it smaller than Regal, which operates more than 7,300 screens in the U.S., second to China’s Dalian Wanda Group’s AMC.