Solomon steps in to hold fort

Just 15 months after spearheading a takeover of the Mann Theatres circuit, Jeff Lewine has resigned as president and CEO of parent company WestStar Holdings Inc.

Michael Solomon, an executive with LBO firm Warburg Pincus, which backed Lewine in the $165 million acquisition, has temporarily taken over the reins of the circuit.

The move comes less than two months after Warburg retained Wall Street firm Bear Stearns to sell the chain. Bids were due Tuesday on the circuit, which operates 375-screens in California and Colorado.

Rival L.A.-based exhib Pacific Theatres is said to have made an offer for well under $100 million, considerably below Warburg’s asking price. At least one other chain has apparently expressed an interest, and Lewine himself has sought financial backing to buy back the circuit.

The exhibition veteran had a rocky tenure at Mann, clashing with some studio distribution execs and experiencing high turnover among key personnel.

Before taking over Mann, Lewine was the president of the Pittsburgh-based theater chain Cinemaworld, which was bought out by Carmike Cinemas in the mid-’90s.

He could not be reached for comment.

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