Blockbuster sells Xtra-vision chain

186-store chain in Ireland sold for up to $45 mil

NEW YORK -- Blockbuster has sold Xtra-vision, its 186-store chain in Ireland, to Birchhall Investments for as much as $45 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments.

The deal, announced Friday, will enhance the video rental giant's liquidity.

Birchhall is owned by NCB Ventures and clients of NCB Group, one of Ireland's largest securities firms.

"Today's announcement furthers our goal of improving liquidity and underscores our intent to advance the sale and licensing of our international assets as we focus on the continued transformation of our North American business," Blockbuster chairman and CEO Jim Keyes said.

Blockbuster purchased Xtra-vision in 1997. With stores throughout the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, it offers movies and games for rental and purchase, music, consumer electronics and mobile phones.