Imax Stock Surges Amid Takeover Speculation

A new report claims that Sony and Disney are considering an acquisition of the giant-screen exhibitor.

TORONTO – Imax Corp. on Friday said it had no idea why its stock was running up amid a press report that Sony Corp. and Walt Disney Co. are eyeing the giant-screen exhibitor as a possible acquisition.

Toronto-based Imax, asked by the Toronto Stock Exchange to explain recent heavy trading in its stock, including a Friday surge to a high of $32.30, said it "is not aware of any corporate developments to account for this activity."

Imax added that it does not comment on rumors or speculation, and so would not comment further.

Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reported Sony may offer $40 per share for the large-format theater chain, and that the Walt Disney Co. was also kicking the tires, according to industry sources.

Imax in 2009 denied it was in acquisition talks with Walt Disney after it became the subject of faux press release issued online.

The most recent takeover speculation swirling round Imax comes on the heels of the exhibitor's reaching a number of milestones following a long 70 mm film-to-digital transition and an impressive expansion in 3D exhibition.

Walt Disney’s appetite for Imax may well have peaked this week on news that Tron: Legacy surpassed the $100 million domestic box-office mark, with about 25 percent of the ticket receipts coming from Imax theaters.

That followed 3D titles like James Cameron's Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 earlier breaking boxoffice records for Imax.

And Imax and Sony are already joint-venture partners with Discovery Communications in an upcoming 3D TV roll-out.

Imax in recent quarters has pointed to sustained earnings growth from joint revenue-share theaters and remastering and releasing Hollywood films in its supersized format.

To maintain momentum, Imax has continued an aggressive international theater rollout, especially in Europe and Asia.

The exhibitor is also investing heavily in new proprietary technology to enhance its giant-screen theater experience, including building a new 3D digital camera, unveiling a new nXos Calibrator touted as a super equalizer to digitally tune and monitor audio systems and using Texas Instrument’s DLP projectors in its digital theater projection systems.