Argus Capital buys Ster Century cinemas

The firm has bought the Czech and Hungarian multiplex cinemas as it buys and builds across the region.

Argus Capital Group, the Central Europe focussed private equity arm of Prudential Investment Management, has bought the multiplex cinema interests of Ster Century Europe Ltd in Budapest and Prague for $16.5m.

The acquisition was made via its United Cinemas International Central Europe [UCICE] vehicle. The firm said that it will also go on to buy the Slovak cinema of Ster if the local authoritires give their approval.

Ali Artunkal, managing director of Argus Capital Group, commented: 'we are a regional fund with a regional presence and this acquisition fits our investrment mandate perfectly.'

Argus set up UCICE in 1999 with entertainment veteran Arthur Goldblatt and V.J. Maury, backing it with funds from from its Argus Capital Partners I fund. Artunkal said that the aim had been to grow the business so that it would own 10 multiplex cinemas within three years. With this objective now achieved, UCICE will be looking to acquire further properties or merge according to Artunkal.

Artunkal went on to say that the cinema business delivered good cashflows and that discussions were being held with several local banks in order to add a little 'light leverage' to the operation.

Argus Capital Group is part of Prudential Investment Management which is the asset management division of Prudential Financial. It has offices in London, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.