CEO of U.K. Exhibitor Cineworld to Step Down

Steve Weiner, who founded the movie theater circuit 18 years ago, said he will leave in March to "enjoy the fruits of his success."

LONDON – Veteran exhibition chief Steve Weiner, the chief executive and founder of the U.K.'s biggest movie theater chain Cineworld, is stepping down.

Weiner, one of the big personalities on the global exhibition scene who has been in the business for 44 years, will exit in March after 18 years with Cineworld.

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He told the markets -- Cineworld is listed on the stock exchange here -- he is leaving to "enjoy the fruits of his success in building the U.K.'s top cinema chain."

A former managing director of Warner Bros. Europe, Weiner set up Cineworld in 1995 and it was subsequently purchased by private equity group Blackstone in 2004, and floated on the stock exchange in 2007.

Wiener said: "In 1995 my wife Jenny and I wrote a business plan to start a cinema company. We expected over a five-year period to open five-seven multiplex cinemas and sell it on to one of the big operators."

He noted that in 2013, Cineworld "is the number one cinema chain in the U.K. and has been for more than three years. This was achieved by a lot of hard work by an executive team that is the best I have ever worked with in my 44 years in the industry. I am sure with them on board Cineworld will continue to go from strength to strength."

Cineworld currently operates 80 sites, of which 77 are multiplex cinemas with five screens or more. It posted 46 million admissions in 2012 and revenues of $579 million (£359 million).

In December 2012, Cineworld acquired the U.K.’s leading art house exhibition chain Picturehouse for $76 million. It operates 21 sites with 60 screens.

STORY: U.K.'s Picturehouse Cinemas Forced to Sell Three Locations Ahead of Proposed Cineworld Acquisition

The Competition Commission recently ruled that it would have to sell three sites.

The company's shares remained largely unmoved by the news of Weiner's departure, falling slightly from Tuesday's closing price.

Cineworld chairman Anthony Bloom said Weiner will leave the business "in fine shape and with significant management depth."

Added Bloom: "This is an exciting time for Cineworld as it continues with ambitious U.K. expansion plans. We look forward to the next chapter of our growth and express our deep appreciation to Steve."