Blackstone to float Cineworld

Blackstone has hired JPMorgan Cazenove and Lehman Brothers to handle the proposed flotation of UK cinema chain Cineworld.

Blackstone created Cineworld by buying Cine-UK for £120m (US$224.6m) and the UK operations of UGC for about £200m in late 2004, although seven sites are being sold to meet competition authority requirements.

Cine-UK business was founded in 1995 by a management team including Steve Wiener, the current chief executive of the group. He said: “UK cinema is a growth industry. Combined box office, retail and advertising revenues have shown an average annual increase of approximately 6.7% since 2000.”

The business has 79 cinemas comprising 820 screens under the Cineworld brand, including five of the top 10 highest grossing cinemas in the UK and Ireland in 2005. The group’s portfolio represented 24% of the total number of cinema screens in the UK in January 2006 with 45.4m people visiting them last year.

In the 52 week period ended December 29, Cineworld increased revenue by 4.5% to £272.2m from £260.4m and Ebitda by 17% to £44m from £37.6m.