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India multiplexes flex muscle

Reliance's Big Cinemas, Inox, PVR plan expansion

India’s multiplex business continues to boom with market leader Big Cinemas and its competitors Inox Leisure and PVR Cinemas announcing aggressive expansion plans for 2010-11. Big Cinemas, a division of Reliance MediaWorks, has opened a three-screen multiplex in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. The company plans to have 22 new screens across the south in Bangalore, Coimbatore and Hyderabad by the end of the year.

Inox Leisure is expanding rapidly in eastern India, planning to add 40 screens in Kolkata, Howrah, Asansol, Siliguri, Haldia and Kharagpur by 2011. This would give the group a 75% market share in the region’s exhibition pie.

Inox is in the process of acquiring multiplex chain Fame India, a deal that is being opposed by Reliance MediaWorks which said it’s offered a higher price than Inox. If the deal goes through, the Inox-Fame combine with the addition of the new locations will have a total of 244 screens across India, bringing it close to Big Cinemas, which will have 268 screens by December.

Meanwhile, PVR Cinemas, which operates 112 screens, has said that it plans to add 70-80 more screens by 2011.

However, PVR has decided not to go ahead with its acquisition of the DLF Group’s DT Cinemas. PVR said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange that “the conditions precedent for the acquisition have still not been satisfied”. The company did not specify what the conditions were. PVR had announced its intention in November to acquire DLF’s 29-screen cinema business in a cash and stock deal where PVR would issue 2.5 million of its shares to DT Cinemas and in addition pay 202 million rupees ($4.3 million). Since then, the companies had asked for an extension till Feb. 15 to complete the deal before finally deciding to terminate it.

PVR, which operates 112 screens, has said that it plans to add 70-80 more screens by 2011.

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