Picturehouse founder screens deal to buy chain from ailing Cineworld | Business News

The founder of Picturehouse, the boutique cinema chain, is hatching a plan to buy it back as part of a potential break-up of Cineworld, the stricken London-listed group.

Sky News understands that Lyn Goleby, who established Picturehouse nearly 35 years ago, has held discussions with Vue International about its offer to buy large chunks of Cineworld.

It was unclear on Tuesday whether Ms Goleby and Vue had reached any form of agreement about the terms of a collaboration.

Vue is among a number of suitors for Cineworld, which is listed in London but has seen its shares collapse after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US last September.

A sale of Picturehouse could aid Vue from a competition perspective given its status as one of Britain’s biggest cinema operators.

Cineworld is running a formal auction of its assets, although it said last month that any sale of its assets was unlikely to realise any value for its shareholders.

“The company has now received non-binding proposals from a number of potential transaction counterparties for some or all of the group’s business,” it said in a stock exchange announcement.

“None of these proposals involves an all-cash bid for the entire business.”

The Clapham Picturehouse in London which remains closed as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Clapham Picturehouse in London is pictured during the COVID pandemic

Ms Goleby left Picturehouse, which was bought by Cineworld in 2012 for just over £47m, four years later.

Sky News revealed recently that Vue had lined up financial backing from its new shareholders to help assemble a takeover tilt at Cineworld.

Funds managed by Barings and Farallon Capital Management, as well as at least one other backer, are understood to have agreed to provide capital to Vue’s chief, Tim Richards, to support potential acquisitions.

Cineworld’s shares have slumped by over 90% during the last year, and the entire group now has a market value of less than £45m, reflecting the fact that its investors face being wiped out in any sale.

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The cinema industry has been bolstered by the recent release of hits such as the Avatar sequel, while two of the top three biggest films in UK history have been released in the last couple of years – Daniel Craig’s final appearance as James Bond in No Time to Die, and Spiderman: No Way Home.

Mr Richards, who also chairs the British Film Institute, has talked about the post-pandemic era becoming “the second golden age of cinema” as audiences flock back to entertainment destinations.

In the UK, Vue ranks behind only Cineworld and Odeon by number of sites.

Neither Vue nor Ms Goleby could be reached for comment, while Cineworld declined to comment.

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