Exhib Vue in driver’s seat

U.K.'s third biggest chain set for further expansion

Vue Entertainment, the U.K.’s third largest cinema chain, has completed a management buyout backed by Bank of Scotland, part of the HBOS bank, in a deal worth £350 million ($644 million).

Vue has simultaneously acquired five Village Roadshow multiplex sites, and it will open 10 more plexes in the next three years.

Formed in 2003, Vue has 55 cinemas with 544 screens that accounted for a fifth of ticket sales in the U.K. and Ireland last year.

In the buyout, U.S. private equity firms Boston Ventures (the founding investors), Clarity Partners and Legal & General Ventures have sold their shareholdings, giving the management team a controlling 51%. The team, headed by CEO Tim Richards, will remain in place.

“This is a landmark event for Vue Entertainment and is a goal that we have been working toward for some considerable time,” Richards said.

U.K. box office biz is currently quiet due to warm weather and the enormous popularity of the televised soccer World Cup.

Trade is expected to pick up when “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” bows on July 6, three days before the World Cup final in Berlin.

Vue won the international exhib of the year award at Cinema Expo 2005.

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