Lawson Acquires United Cinemas in Japan

TOKYO — Lawson, a major Japanese convenience store chain, has acquired multiplex operator United Cinemas, company officials announced today.

The deal, said to be worth nearly $100 million, will give Lawson all United Cinemas shares.

Lawson subsidiary Lawson HMV Entertainment (LHE) has acquired the shares of United Entertainment Holding, the parent company of United Cinemas, from the Advantage Partners investment fund. The share transfer is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 26.

UC operates a total of 36 sites with 331 screens in Japan, making it the industry’s third-biggest player. Founded in 1993 as United Cinema International Japan, it was a pioneer in the local multiplex business. In March 2012, Advantage Partners bought the UC stake of the Sumitomo trading company.

For Lawson, the acquisition offers certain synergies, since LHE is already selling movie, concert and other tickets, as well as CDs, DVDS and books, through Lawson stores and other venues, while UC sites are expected to stock their concessions areas with Lawson-supplied goods. The 64 million members of Lawson’s Ponta loyalty card service will also benefit from the deal, including discount tickets for UC theaters.

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