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Loews’ Teuton trip

EU quick to stamp exhib's visa in Ufa sale

BRUSSELS — European Union regulators gave their seal of approval Tuesday to plans by U.S. exhib Loews Cineplex to break into the German cinema market.

Under the previously announced deal, Loews has formed a co-venture with Germany’s biggest movie house operator, Kieft & Kieft, to buy bankrupt Teutonic chain Ufa Theater from the receivers for the bargain price of e4.5 million ($5.2 million).

Ufa, to be renamed Neue Filmpalast, will take responsibility for 173 screens in 28 movie complexes and manage four other sites with 28 screens, making it the third-largest chain in the country.

Ufa, declared bankrupt in October, generated revenues of $55.3 million last year, accounting for roughly 6% of the market.

Loews is a subsidiary of Canada’s Onex Corp., while Kieft & Kieft is a joint venture between the Kieft family and Australian exhib Greater Union, part of Amalgamated Holdings.

Kieft & Kieft operates 68 cinemas with 460 screens under the Cinestar brand and also has 57 screens in seven cinemas elsewhere in Europe. Deal does not give Loews equity in the Cinestar screens.

The deal was approved under the EU’s simplified antitrust procedure, which means that mergers or acquisitions can be cleared after one month if no objections are raised by third parties.