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UK's Cineworld to buy US Regal Entertainment for US$3.6 bln

[LONDON] Britain's Cineworld Group Plc has agreed to buy US movie theatre operator Regal Entertainment Group for US$3.6 billion in cash, the companies said on Tuesday.

A deal would put the combined company in a better position to take on US industry leader AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc , and also give it more scale to fight growing competition from Netflix Inc, Apple Inc and other digital outlets.

The deal value of US$23 per Regal share represents a premium of about 12 per cent to Regal's closing price on Monday and implies an enterprise value - equity plus debt - of US$5.8 billion.

Regal shares have risen 13.6 per cent since Reuters first reported in November that Cineworld had approached Regal over a potential deal.

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Cineworld said it expected the deal to "strongly" add to earnings in the first full year following completion, currently expected in the first quarter of 2018.

The combined company is expected to deliver pretax benefits of US$100 million, as well as additional annual benefits of US$50 million, the companies said.

Cineworld said it expected to fund the deal through a rights issue to raise about £1.7 billion(S$3.08 billion), with the rest provided by committed debt facilities and existing cash.

Cineworld also expects to be able to maintain its existing dividend policy after the deal closes.

REUTERS