Odeon cinemas set to go on sale for £1bn

Odeon Leicester Square Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Odeon chain is being sold by its private equity owner.

The owner of Odeon and UCI cinemas has announced plans to put the chain up for sale later this year, with an asking price of about £1bn.

Private equity group Terra Firma said it aimed to start the sale process by May.

The group, chaired by Guy Hands, is best known for its ill-fated £2.4bn takeover of record company EMI in 2007.

Terra Firma added that it may opt to list the cinema chain on the London Stock Exchange instead.

Mr Hands said that possible buyers could include US cinema groups, private equity firms or South American cinema operators.

Odeon said last April that profits before interest, tax and other charges for 2013 fell 24% to £69.2m on a 5% slide in sales to £706.7m.

Terra Firma paid €650m (£475m) for Odeon in 2004 and bought UCI the same year for €350m, merging the two groups.

It tried to sell Odeon/UCI in 2011, but abandoned the process after failing to attract bids close to its £1.2bn valuation.

There was a second attempt in 2013 that also proved unsuccessful.

Britain's cinema market is dominated by Odeon, Vue and Cineworld - the latter being the only operator listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Together, they account for about 70% of the UK's screens.

In June 2013, Vue was sold by another private equity firm, Doughty Hanson, to two Canadian pension funds, for £935m.

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