U.K.’s Largest Movie Theater Circuit Could Be Sold

Terra Firma boss Guy Hands is mulling a sale of Odeon & UCI Cinemas.


LONDON -- The U.K.’s largest movie theater circuit, Odeon & UCI Cinemas could be sold as speculation mounts that financier Guy Hands, who heads up private equity company Terra Firma, is mulling options to offload the chain.

Hands, who is a familiar name in the financial pages, is reported to be considering his options for the 200 cinema and 1,850 screen-strong chain.

According to initial reports in the Financial Times, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is expected to run the auction if one goes ahead, but it is understood that Hands has made no definitive decision yet.

Another reported option on the table includes refinancing the business with new debt of about £600 million ($960.8 million) and holding on to the company.

The Odeon/UCI estate includes the flagship Odeon Leicester Square cinema which has played host to myriad world premieres including Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1and Royal galas such as James Bond adventure Quantum Of Solace.

Odeon & UCI posted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £80 million ($128 million) in 2009.

The chain leads the U.K. by market share with 23 percent, followed by Cineworld with 21 percent and Vue Entertainment with 17 percent.