Cinemark CEO Says Exhibitor Is Poised to Buy Theaters

Mark Zoradi -Getty- H 2016
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"More power to AMC and to Carmike. That looks like a good marriage," Mark Zoradi said of continuing industry consolidation.

Cinemark Holdings is on the acquisition hunt in the U.S. and Latin American markets.

But newly installed CEO Mark Zoradi was tight-lipped Tuesday on whether the movie theater operator would pick up theaters that rival AMC and be forced to divest to complete its $1.1 billion takeover of Carmike Cinemas. "That's an active transaction that I can't comment on," Zoradi told analysts at the Deutsche Bank media, Internet and telecom conference during an appearance that was webcast.

"More power to AMC and to Carmike. That looks like a good marriage," he added in response to a question about Cinemark's M&A strategy after AMC Theaters acquired the Carmike chain in a bid to become the biggest theater circuit in the U.S. and around the world.

Some analysts expect that AMC could be forced by regulators to divest some of its theaters where there is especially high market concentration. The last major acquisition by Cinemark was for Rave Cinemas.

Now Zoradi, the Walt Disney and DreamWorks Animation veteran who took over at the company last summer, sees domestic acquisitions coming more for family-controlled circuits than private equity plays.

And, despite economic headwinds in Latin America, Zoradi said he's bullish on that region as cinemagoers continue to see escapist movies in economic downturns.

So Cinemark is keen to grow its Latin American circuit, especially in Brazil, Argentina and beyond. "There are smaller circuits throughout Latin America that we would be interested in," Zoradi told investors.