• AMC is majority-owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin
  • Deal for Odeon & UCI would give AMC strong Europe foothold

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the U.S. theater chain controlled by Asia’s second-richest man, is assembling a bid for Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group valuing the European company at as much as 900 million pounds ($1.3 billion), according to two people familiar with the matter.

AMC, majority owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, recently began preparing an offer for the cinema chain owned by Guy Hands’s Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd., the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

The purchase would give Leawood, Kansas-based AMC many more cinemas in Europe and comes after repeated public denials by Wang of interest in bidding for Odeon & UCI. A sale would also finally give Hands and Terra Firma an exit from the cinema business, after a number of unsuccessful attempts to sell it that date back to 2011.

Representatives for AMC, Dalian Wanda and Terra Firma declined to comment.

Odeon & UCI operates 243 theaters and 2,238 screens from the U.K. and Ireland to Spain and Germany, according to its website. A deal for the company would be the biggest in Europe’s cinema industry since 2013, when Vue Entertainment was bought by two Canadian pension-fund managers for 935 million pounds.

AMC is already in the midst of a $1.1 billion acquisition of Carmike Cinemas Inc., the U.S.’s No. 4 theater chain, though several shareholders are opposing the sale under agreed terms because the price is too low. Both deals would increase the size of AMC by more than 50 percent in terms of revenue.

Wang was surpassed as Asia’s richest man by Jack Ma last month and has a fortune valued at $33.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE