Terra Firma dusts off plans to offload Odeon cinemas

Michael Bow
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GUY HANDS’ private equity firm Terra Firma has appointed JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to revive plans for a potential £1bn sale of cinema chain Odeon & UCI Cinemas, a person familiar with the matter said.

The two investment banks, who were appointed last week, will explore a number of options for the chain, including a float in London or a sale, with rival UK chain Vue and private equity group BC Partners tipped as potential buyers.

Terra Firma, led by UK fund manager Guy Hands, originally shelved proposals to sell the cinema chain, which is Europe’s largest, in 2011 after completing a £475m refinancing deal.

If a sale is not forthcoming second time around, another refinancing could be considered, and further acquisitions of European cinema complexes in a bid to grow the business.

Any action is unlikely to be taken before the early part of 2014, given the time needed to explore options on the table, the person said.

The Odeon and UCI Cinema Group were snapped up separately by Hands in 2004 for £566m and £310m respectively, before he merged them together to create the joint entity. It now has 236 cinemas and 2,179 screens in total, with 112 sites in the UK alone housing 869 screens. Terra Firma declined to comment.