Argentine theater chain for sale

Coll's screens worth between $65-100 mil

BUENOS AIRES — Facing an invasion by U.S. and Oz multiplexes, Argentina’s oldest and largest domestic cinema chain, Coll-Saragusti-SAC, is selling out.

Owners of the 65-screen circuit, which reps 10% of all Argentine screens, have requested a bank audit and have received expressions of interest from a dozen international and national groups, including property developers.

Interested parties include U.S. exhib Cinemark, which last year signed an alliance with Coll involving a 50-50 participation in new projects; so far they have bowed two Buenos Aires plexes.

Cinemark has declined to comment, but industry sources say the circuit is worth between $65 million and $100 million.

In addition to Cinemark, National Amusements, Village Roadshow and soon-to-debut Hoyts are all committing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Argentine arena.

One of the reported reasons for the sale is Coll’s need for fresh funds in order to continue with new projects alongside Cinemark.

Many of Coll’s sites are outdated, observers say; they are too large, use old-fashioned equipment and, in some cases, occupy poor locations, although the chain claims to have a 20% profit margin.

Last week its Maxi cinema — a 900-seat movie palace — closed its doors.

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