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Cineworld clear to buy exhib UGC

World Brief

LONDON — U.K. competish authority the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has given the green light to the purchase by Cineworld U.K. of UGC’s Blighty exhibition business.

Move waves through the creation of the territory’s second-largest circuit. In October 2004, Cineworld U.K. bought rival chain Cine-U.K.

The OFT made the all-clear dependent on Cineworld U.K. selling theaters in areas where both UGC and Cine-U.K. operate to address competition concerns. These are in Boldon, Harlow, Swindon, Wigan, Birmingham, Ealing and Slough.

Cineworld U.K., which is owned by U.S. venture capitalists the Blackstone Group, reportedly paid around $400 million for UGC, which has 408 screens in 42 theaters.

The U.K.’s three big chains — Odeon, Cineworld and Vue — are now all owned by venture capital groups rather than film companies.

Odeon Cinemas and UCI were snapped up last year by Guy Hands; Vue Entertainment was created in 2003 by the merger of Warner Village and SBC.

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