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Cathay Org boosts business

Co. pushes to build multiplexes, take lead role in distrib'n

The recently renovated Cathay Building, Singapore’s first skyscraper back in 1939, is something of a local landmark; its parent Cathay Organization is something of a local institution.

Despite business setbacks in the 1980s, today the company is celebrating. It has hardtops both in Singapore and Malaysia (having re-entered that market in 1997); it also has ops in film acquisition, distribution & production, property management, a retail mall, a hotel chain, an eco-camp, advertising and event management.

Last year saw the gala post-renovation opening of the Cathay Building, with eight cinema halls, while at CineAsia 2006, Meileen Choo, executive director of Cathay Organization Holdings, was named Exhibitor of the Year.

And 2007 is set to offer some milestones to Cathay’s rich and varied 72-year history.

Two new cineplexes are to open in the suburbs this year for a total of 16 screens and 3,000 seats.

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“We feel that the time is right to set up quality screens that are lacking in the heartlands and introduce the Orchard Road cinema experience into these areas,” says Suhaimi Rafdi, prexy of business operations of Cathay Organization Holdings. “This includes ambiance and quality technology as well as features such as latenight screenings and double midnights, which are only available in the city area at present.”

On the film distribution side, Rafdi says the Cathay library has already been restored, with existing distribution deals for key Asian territories (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Malaysia and Singapore).

Cathay is in negotiations with an international sales rep for sales of its library to North America, Asia and key European territories, Rafdi notes. And for the past year, Cathay has been exploring remakes with top Hong Kong filmmakers.

“Cathay is looking at a project with director Tsui Hark and producer Nansun Shi, which is currently in development stage,” Rafdi says. “This project involves original elements of the Cathay classic films.”

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