Carmike shareholders approved a deal on Tuesday for the theater chain to sell itself to AMC Entertainment for $1.2 billion. The combined company will be the largest exhibitor in the world, bypassing Regal Entertainment.
More than 86% of the shares voted at the meeting were in favor of the merger, representing approximately 72% of Carmike’s outstanding shares, the company said.
In a statement, Carmike CEO David Passman said “this transaction creates an opportunity to deliver an even more compelling movie-going experience to more guests in many more locations across the country.”
Last summer, AMC was forced to sweeten its original $1.1 billion offer after several shareholders complained that it undervalued Carmike.
The deal with Carmike gives AMC more than 600 theater locations in 45 states across the country, including the District of Columbia. It expands the company’s geographic profile in other ways — AMC tends to have a stronger presence in urban markets, while Carmike is more associated with rural areas.
AMC was itself acquired in 2012 by China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $2.6 billion. Dalian Wanda has been on a spending spree in the past several months, reaching deals to buy the likes Odeon & UCI Cinemas, Legendary Entertainment, and Dick Clark Productions. The purchases are drawing some blowback. Some leaders in congress have asked regulators to see if stricter restrictions need to be considered to stop foreign powers from having an outsized control of U.S. media companies.
At the same time, D.C. lobbyist Richard Berman has been orchestrating a public relations campaign against Wanda’s moves and has put up billboards that raise alarm about Chinese ownership of AMC. In a statement following news of the shareholder vote, Berman decried the pact as a Chinese soft power play.
“The American public should be aware of how the Chinese government is expanding its sphere of influence overseas,” he said.