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Loews goes the IPO route

Price range, percentage of co. to be sold still unclear

Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp., which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, has announced plans for a public stock offering to raise up to $300 million.

A 3,400-page document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday said the company intended to sell an unspecified number of Class A shares to the public, with some stock sold by shareholder Oaktree Capital Management.

Loews, which operates 2,768 screens in 282 theaters, is owned by Canadian buyout firm Onex and Los Angeles-based investment company Oaktree. The two owners acquired the exhib by converting debt securities into equity during bankruptcy proceedings that lasted more than a year. The former owners of Loews, which included public stockholders as well as Sony and Universal, lost their entire investments in the bankruptcy.

The SEC filing did not set a date for the IPO, nor did it specify a price range for the shares. There was also no indication as to how much of the company would be sold to the public. It said proceeds from the IPO would be used to reduce debt, and for other general corporate purposes.

Because Onex owns all the Class B stock, which carries 10 votes per share compared with one vote for each Class A share, its control of Loews seems assured.

Loews becomes the third formerly bankrupt theater circuit to initiate an IPO this year. In May, Regal Entertainment Group — agglomerated by entrepreneur Philip Anschutz from the bankrupt assets of several circuits — rolled out an IPO that was well-received by Wall Street at the time. Cinemark, which had planned an IPO for July, yanked its offering at the last minute due to the cratering stock market. It has not set a date when the IPO might be resurrected.