LONDON — European exhib Vue Entertainment has been sold by private equity firm Doughty Hanson to two Canadian investors for £935 million ($1.45 billion).
OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporation have snapped up the cinema chain, which has 146 multiplexes across Blighty and Europe, with a plan to expand the business further.
Deal is expected to close by late July and the Vue management team, including founder and CEO Tim Richards, will retain a substantial equity stake and continue to manage the business.
The sale is likely to make a hefty profit for Doughty Hanson, which acquired the exhib in 2010 for $699 million from U.S. private equity group Coller Capital and Och-Ziff.
Since Doughty Hanson has been at the reins, Vue has added three European chains to its business: Blighty’s Apollo Cinemas in May 2012, Germany’s second largest exhib CinemaxX in July 2012 and Poland’s second largest operator Multikino last May.
Over the last three years, it has doubled the number of cinemas under its ownership from 70 to 146 and nearly doubled its screens from 678 to 1,321.
The company has also rolled out state-of-the-art digital projection technology across its circuits and opened a raft of new cinemas, including two of the U.K.’s highest grossing cinemas in the territory at Vue Westfield London and Vue Westfield Stratford City.
“We are delighted to be embarking on the next phase of our journey with OPE and AIMCo, who share our vision of driving attractive growth and investment returns by consistently delivering excellent entertainment experience for our customers,” Richards said. “As the company moves forward, I am confident that we will do so from a position of real strength. We will continue to build on this success by innovating, enhancing and growing the business through our continuing plan for organic growth supplemented by strategic acquisitions.”