Loews exits exhibition in Spain

Company sells stake in Yelmo

U.S. exhib Loews Cineplex Intl. Holdings has quit Spain’s exhibition market, selling its 50% stake in local loop Yelmo Cineplex to its partner in the joint venture, Spanish exhibitor Ricardo Evole’s Yelmo Group.

Yelmo and Loews created Yelmo Cineplex in 1998 as a 50-50 venture. Growing rapidly from 108 to 329 screens, Yelmo Cineplex became the third-biggest circuit in Spain, with an estimated 11% market share. The company’s revenues last year were around e100 million ($133 million).

Loews is the last of the U.S. cinema owners to leave Spain.

Viacom sold its European theaters, including Spanish circuit Cinesa-UCI, to U.K. private equity company Terra Firma Capital Partners in 2004. The following year Terra Firma also bought Warner Bros.’ 33% stake in Warner Lusomundo Sogecable Cines de Espana and this year acquired AMC Entertainment’s 86 screens in Spain.

Loews’ exit from Spain has been expected for months, as Spanish exhibition offers few growth prospects.

The average number of tickets sold per screen has dropped from 38,657 in 2000 to 29,005 this year.