ROME – Expanding European exhibition chain VUE has sealed a deal to acquire top Italian loop The Space, which comprises 36 multiplexes across Italy, accounting for 362 screens and more than 20 percent of the local box office.
Britain-based Vue Entertainment International paid 105 million Euros ($134 million) for circuit, jointly owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and the Benetton family of global fashion fame.
The Space was launched in 2009 by merging Italy’s former Warner Village Cinemas loop with Mediaset’s Medusa Multicinema. Revenues reportedly doubled since then to around Euros 170 million ($216 million) thanks to added facilities, total digital screen conversion, entry into direct distribution, and a partnership with Universal in Italy.
“The acquisition of The Space is another very exciting addition to the Vue Group and continues our strategic plan of supplementing our organic growth through opening new cinemas with strategic acquisitions of the highest quality assets in the UK and continental Europe,” enthused Vue founder and CEO Tim Richards in a statement. He also noted that Italy is the fourth largest film market in Europe.
The Italian deal is Vue’s fourth acquisition in the past three years which have seen its multiplexes and screens more than double. When The Space deal is completed in November, Vue will have 187 plexes and a total 1,727 screens.
Vue snapped up the U.K.’s Apollo Cinemas in May 2012, Germany’s second largest exhib, CinemaxX, in August 2012, and Poland’s second largest operator Multikino in October 2013.
Vue was sold by private equity firm Doughty Hanson to its two current Canadian owners Omers Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporationrse in June 2013 for $1.45 billion.
It’s clear that its new owners are willing to invest to further pursue Vue’s expansion.