HONG KONG – Indonesia’s number two movie theater chain Blitz Megaplex says that it intends to launch an initial public offering of its shares on the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

At a press conference Wednesday in Jakarta, the company said that it aimed to go ahead with the flotation in the first quarter of the year.

It said that it would use the proceeds towards building 15 new multiplexes, which it indicated could cost $35 million.

The firm was started some seven years ago and currently operates nine sites, but said that it would like to reach 25 within three years.

It is a long way behind the market leader Group 21 (aka 21 Cineplex) which has also indirectly sub-distributes movies on behalf of the major Hollywood groups.

Indonesian law currently restricts ownership of cinemas to predominantly local companies – a throwback to the era of protected and family run industry sectors of the Suharto regime. That has severely limited competition, left the sector relatively under-screened and until recently limited the pace of modernization.

However, at least one local conglomerate and two foreign ones are closely eying the sector. Indonesia’s Lippo Group has said that it will open its first cinema next year, while South Korea’s CJ-CGV and Lotte have both examined ways of becoming involved.

Blitz is part-financed by Singaporean private equity firm Quvat Management. The IPO could allow Quvat a partial exit route while also paving a way for one of the Korean firms to buy in.