Viacom, TW complete Cinamerica theater sale

Cinamerica co-owners Viacom and Time Warner announced Monday that they had completed the sale of the 374-screen theater chain to WestStar Holdings (Daily Variety, Oct. 1).

WestStar, a joint venture of investment firm Warburg Pincus and former Cinemaworld president Jeff Lewine, is believed to have paid $165 million for the circuit, which includes Mann Theatres.

Steep slide

The sale price is slightly more than half what the company was worth a decade ago.

Gulf & Western, then-parent of Paramount, purchased the chain for $220 million in 1986. In 1988, Time Warner predecessor Warner Communications Inc. bought a 50% stake for $150 million.

Cinamerica has 62 sites, primarily in Colorado and California. Those include the flagship Mann Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and the historic Bruin and Village in Westwood.

But many of the Mann theaters are outdated, and up until a few years ago the company had sat idle while its competitors rushed to build state-of-the-art megaplexes.

Previous suitors

Viacom and Time Warner had long been looking to divest themselves of the circuit. Previous suitors included Act III, Edwards Theatres and Connecticut-based Crown Theatres.

Viacom and Time Warner reportedly both plan to use the money raised from the sale for debt reduction.

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