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VCs continue to drive UK cinema consolidation

Botts, JP Morgan Chase and RIT are looking to exit their investment in Cine-UK, the £150m cinema group.

Private equity houses Botts & Co, RIT Capital Partners and the JP Morgan Partners are looking to sell Cine-UK, one of Britain’s largest cinema operators.


Cine-UK, which runs over 260 screens, has been put up for sale with a £150m price tag, according to reports.


The group was set up in 1995, when Botts agreed to back Steve Wiener and bring in the two other venture capital providers. Between them the trio committed to invest £27m of equity capital in the start-up, of which approximately £18m were subsequently drawn down, according to a source familiar with the situation.   


One possible buyer for the business is Odeon, the 160-strong group of cinemas that was bought by venture capitalist Cinven in 2000. Cinven acquired Odeon from Rank Group in a E456m transaction and merged it with ABC Cinemas, which it had acquired in 1996.


Also expected to take a look at Cine-UK are UGC and UCI, which both count Vivendi Universal among its shareholders.

Goldman Sachs has been appointed to advise Cine-UK’s owners on how to best proceed with a disposal. A final decision is expected to be taken within the next six to eight weeks.


There are currently over 20 cinema operators in the UK, competing in a sector in which the proprietors of multi-screen venues have been steadily increasing their market share recently, a sign that further consolidation is likely to get underway.