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U.K.’s Cineworld buys Picturehouse

Arthouse exhib to press ahead with expansion

LONDON — Blighty’s second largest exhib chain Cineworld Group has acquired leading independent exhib City Screen Group’s Picturehouse Cinemas for £47.3 million ($76.2 million), it was announced Thursday.

The 21 Picturehouse sites, including a new Brighton site which opened Thursday, will continue to be managed and programmed by the current team, led by managing director Lyn Goleby. The sites, which house 60 screens, will not be rebranded as Cineworld, with Picturehouse continuing to operate as a separate business within Cineworld Group. The acquisition is expected to accelerate the growth of Picturehouse, which already has 10 new locations in the pipeline.

In 2011, Picturehouse reported audited sales of $48.8 million, profit before tax of $4 million, and gross assets of $56.4 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2012 are expected to be approximately $8 million.

Cineworld operates 80 sites in U.K. and Ireland, with the Picturehouse sites raising its total footprint to 101, second only to Odeon/UCI, which operates 120 sites in the territory. Cineworld is set to open five new sites encompassing 43 digital screens by the end of next year.

The acquisition also includes Picturehouse Entertainment, the exhib’s distribution arm, which most recently jointly acquired and released docu “The Imposter” with Revolver Entertainment, grossing $1.8 million at the U.K. box office. The company’s previous biggest hit was Werner Herzog’s 3D docu “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” which took $992,000 last year.

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