• Mars Group is operator of Turkey's largest cinema chain
  • Actera Group, Esas holding said to restart sale process

The owners of Turkey’s largest cinema operator have hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley to manage a sale of the company, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential.

The hiring marks the restart of the process to sell Mars Entertainment Group, which also owns fitness centers, after owners Actera Group and Esas Holding AS initiated the process earlier this year. The business was valued at $500 million in January, according to three people with knowledge of the sale process then. It was delayed as Turkey held two elections that sparked market volatility and as investors shied away from emerging markets ahead of an expected U.S. rate increase, which occurred on Wednesday.

Actera and Esas own 69.5 percent of Mars, with the remainder held by founding partner and Chief Executive Officer Muzaffer Yildirim, according to the company’s website. Actera invested in Mars in 2010 after Los Angeles-based Colony Capital exited the business. Esas, founded by members of Turkey’s billionaire Sabanci family, invested in 2011.

Mars Sinema & Sportif Tesisler Isletmeciligi AS, as the company is formally known, owns the “Cinemaximum” chain, which has about 600 screens nationwide, and the Mars Athletic Club gyms. The number of movie tickets sold in Turkey rose 23 percent to 55.4 million last year, while the number of theaters rose by 3.2 percent, according to state statistics office data.

Joseph Stein, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, and Michael Wang, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment. Executives from Esas, Actera and Mars declined to comment.

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