AMC, Loews to merge

The second- and third-largest movie theater chains in the US, both of which are backed by private equity firms, reportedly plan to merge.

Theater chain AMC Entertainment, which was purchased by private equity funds JP Morgan Partners and Apollo Management for $1.67 billion last July, plans to buy its next-largest competitor, Loews Cineplex Entertainment.

Loews was also purchased last July by a private investor group including The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital and Spectrum Equity Investors. The chain was purchased for $1.5 billion from Oaktree Capital Management and Onex Corp., who bought the chain when it emerged from bankruptcy in 2002.

The details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The two chains will continue under the AMC banner and be run by AMC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Brown. It will have 5,900 screens in 450 theaters.

AMC is known for a strong theater presence in California, Florida and Texas, while Loews is heavily concentrated in cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit and Mexico City.