Vue Begins Buying out CinemaxX Minority Shareholders

vue cinemas - H 2012

The British exhibitor is set to pay $225 million for the German multiplex group.

COLOGNE, Germany - British theatrical exhibitor Vue Entertainment has formally begun the squeeze-out process to buy out minority shareholders and take full control of German multiplex group CinemaxX.

Vue signed a deal this summer to buy the 84.6 percent stake in CinemaxX held by Herbert Kloiber's Tele Munchen Group for €147 million ($190 million) and made a buyout offer to minority shareholders to secure the 95 percent threshold required to trigger the squeeze-out. Vue has offered €6.45 a share for CinemaxX, valuing the buyout at $225 million (€174 million).

Vue filed its request for the squeeze-out to a court in Frankfurt last week and a decision is expected shortly. If the application is accepted, Vue can take full control of CinemaxX without having to receive approval from the company's board.

CinemaxX operates 31 multiplex cinemas in Germany and 3 in Denmark with a total of around 75,000 seats. Ticket sales at the group slipped 7.1 percent last year to 16.3 million sold but the group booked record operating profits of €41.2 million ($53.3 million) thanks to a one-off tax rebate and to increased revenue from pricier tickets for 3D screenings. For 2012, CinemaxX is forecasting an increase in ticket sales but, without the one-off tax rebate, for operating profits to below below last year's figures.

The CinemaxX deal follows Vue's $32 million buyout of U.K. indie cinema circuit Apollo Cinemas in May. The CinemaxX deal, which still has to be approved by German anti-cartel authorities, will turn Vue into a pan-European giant, operating 119 theaters with 230,000 seats across the U.K., Ireland, Germany and Denmark. Vue itself is controlled by a group of private equity companies.