Vue, which is majority owned by private equity firm Doughty Hanson, already agreed to buy the 85% stake in Cinemaxx owned by German media mogul Herbert Kloiber, plus another 6.76% on the open market.
The competition watchdog’s greenlight means Vue can now complete that deal and push ahead with its offer to buy the remaining public shares at the same price of $7.99. Vue expects to wrap up the takeover by the end of the year.
Vue is one of the U.K.’s big three chains, with 80 sites following its recent $32 million purchase of the smaller Apollo loop. Cinemaxx is German’s third-placed exhib, with 266 screens in 31 sites. Both companies use Sony 4K digital projection.
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Vue chief exec Tim Richards, part of the senior management team that owns around 30% of the company, says the European exhibition sector is ripe for a wave of mergers and acquisitions over the next two years, similar to the consolidation that took place in the U.S. a decade ago.
Vue’s deal with Cinemaxx positions the group alongside its main pan-European rival Odeon/UCI as the two companies best placed to lead this consolidation.