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Cineworld planning IPO

Chain is country's second largest

Cineworld, the U.K.’s second largest cinema chain, has put a temporary stop to rumors of consolidation in Britain’s exhib sector by announcing that it will float its shares on the London Stock Exchange.

U.S. private equity group Blackstone owns Cineworld and will make a partial exit through an initial public offering. A listing is expecting in the next few months.

Cineworld doubled in size last year, when it acquired UGC’s U.K. and Irish theaters. In 2005 Cineworld’s 79 cinemas took 28% of admissions, trailing only the Terra Firma-owned Odeon chain, which boasted 34% of ticket sales. Vue Entertainment, also backed by private equity, has a 19% share of the market.

Cineworld grew revs by 4.5% to £272.5 million ($508 million) last year. Founder and chief exec Steve Weiner said the chain plans to add three plexes next year.

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