AMC: GC deal about to close

General Cinema to be swallowed by rival chain

No. 2 U.S. exhib AMC Entertainment said Monday it expects to close on its acquisition of rival movie circuit General Cinemas by the end of March, following court approval of the $167.3 million deal.

In December, AMC was selected the winning bidder for GC after a months-long auction in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. Terms, to be finalized at closing, involve a combination of cash, stock and debt assumption.

Screen count to 3,500

The acquisition — along with last week’s purchase of Gulf States’ 68-screen regional circuit — will boost Mac’s worldwide screen count to about 3,500, just behind No. 1 exhib Regal Cinemas. Move continues a recent industry consolidation trend, which includes plans by Regal owner Philip Anschutz to fold that circuit together with United Artists Theaters and Edwards Theater Circuit into a 5,900-screen behemoth.

Kansas City, Mo.-based AMC is the biggest publicly held exhib until Regal Entertainment floats its initial public offering. AMC, which recently launched a secondary stock offering to raise new acquisition capital, has said it will continue to amass additional screens selectively.

“Acquisition of the GC theater circuit expands Mac’s national footprint of industry-leading theaters, especially in key markets in the Northeast and upper Midwest,” AMC chairman-CEO Peter Brown said.

Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based GC operates 621 U.S. screens and has a 50% stake in a 160-screen international joint venture with Hoyts.

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