Carlton Bids For MGM Cinemas

Cash-rich U.K. media giant Carlton Communications is bidding for MGM Cinemas, the U.K.’s leading cinema chain, in a joint venture with U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs and Polygram, the European entertainment group.

The Carlton-led bid for MGM, which has 120 traditional cinemas and 18 multi-plexes giving it more than 500 screens, is believed to be worth up to £170 million ($255 million).

It is understood the consortium is not bidding for MGM Cinemas in Denmark and the Netherlands and that Goldman Sachs approached Carlton with the proposition.

If the bid is successful, Carlton, owner of Technicolor and ITV stations Carlton and Central Television, is expected to start with a 50% stake in MGM. Carlton may ultimately take full control.

MGM Cinemas, which last year made profits of around $30 million on sales of $180 million, is being offered for sale by Credit Lyonnais, the loss-making state-controlled French bank.

Competition to buy the chain is understood to be intense. Craig, the U.S. property and finance group; Warner Bros., National Amusements, owned by Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, and Sony are all thought to be in the frame.

If the Carlton-led bid succeeds, MGM Cinemas will mark Carlton’s first acquisition since buying Central a year ago.

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