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AMC Theatre chain buying Europe’s Odeon & UCI

Associated Press

NEW YORK– The owner of the AMC Theatre chain is buying European movie theater operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group from private equity firm Terra Firma in a deal valued at about 921 million pounds ($1.21 billion).

AMC said Tuesday that the transaction will make it the biggest movie theater operator in the world. London-based Odeon & UCI has 242 theaters in Europe. The deal will give AMC a total of 627 theaters in eight countries.

Odeon & UCI will become an AMC subsidiary and continue operating under its current brand names.

AMC, which was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in 2012, is still in the process of trying to buy American movie theater operator Carmike Cinemas Inc. That transaction, which was announced in March, is valued at $1.1 billion including debt.

On Tuesday, AMC said that the Odeon & UCI transaction doesn’t impact its ability to complete the Carmike deal. The company said it has the financing commitments and flexibility to do both.

But AMC President and CEO Adam Aron said in a written statement that there continues to be “considerable risk” to the Carmike deal, as some of Carmike’s shareholders have an “unrealistic view” of the company’s value to AMC. Aron said that AMC will continue to work with Carmike this week to see if the transaction can be saved.

The deal for Odeon & UCI is expected to close in the fourth quarter. It still needs antitrust clearance by the European Commission and is subject to consultation with the European Works Council.

AMC will remain headquartered in Leawood, Kansas.

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