Cineworld drops major sale plan, proposes new debt deal By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Cineworld cinema near Manchester, Britain, October 4, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) -Cineworld has scrapped plans to sell its U.S., UK and Ireland businesses after failing to find a buyer, the cinema chain operator said on Monday, as it proposed a new debt restructuring plan.

The world’s second-largest cinema chain operator behind AMC Entertainment (NYSE:) placed the majority of the business under U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.

Under a new tentative deal with lenders it said it aimed to reduce debt by about $4.53 billion, mainly through creditors getting equity in a reorganised group.

It had net debt of $8.81 billion including lease liabilities as of June 2022.

The plan also includes raising $2.26 billion to emerge from bankruptcy this year.

“This agreement with our lenders represents a ‘vote-of-confidence’ in our business and significantly advances Cineworld towards achieving its long-term strategy in a changing entertainment environment,” CEO Mooky Greidinger said in a statement.

“Cineworld has determined that, absent an all-cash bid significantly in excess of the value established under the proposed restructuring, the marketing process as it relates to the Group’s business in the US, the UK and Ireland will be terminated,” it said in a statement.

The company said it would continue to consider proposals for the sale of its ‘Rest of World’ business, which accounted for about 13% of its revenue in 2021 and comprises operations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Israel.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and activist investor Elliott Management last month proposed separate takeover bids for its eastern Europe and Israeli operations, Sky News reported. 

Shares in the London-listed company are down more than 99% from an all-time high hit in 2017.

On Monday they tumbled as much as 38% to 1.8 pence in early trade.

The company reiterated that shareholders will be wiped out under its restructuring plans.