Exhib is the third largest loop in the U.K.

European private equity firm Doughty Hanson & Co. has acquired Blighty exhib Vue Entertainment from investors Cavendish Square Partners and its existing management team in a deal worth an estimated £450 million ($730 million).

Exhib, which has the third largest market share in the U.K. in terms of box office, has 68 cinemas and 678 screens. It also has a cinema in Taiwan and one in Portugal.

Chain is increasing competition with its major British rivals, UCI/Odeon and Cineworld.

It recently opened an all-digital cinema in Westfield’s West London mall and will add another 14-screen digital cinema in Westfield’s Stratford City mall next September.

Over the past few years, Vue has built nearly half of all multiplex cinemas in the country.

Vue is working with Sony Digital Europe on the rollout of 4K projectors for its screens, which is expected to be completed by 2012.

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