Cineworld buying Regal movie chain in global expansion

FILE - In this Tuesday July 26, 2011, file photo, people walk past Regal Entertainment's Palladium Cinemas in High Point, N.C. Cineworld is paying $3.61 billion for Regal Entertainment as it expands its global footprint. Cineworld has theaters in several nations, while Regal operates theaters throughout the U.S. (Don Davis Jr./The High Point Enterprise via AP, File)

Don Davis Jr.

The owner of the Moline cinemas is changing. Regal Entertainment Group is being sold to Cineworld Group PLC in a $3.61 billion deal, Cineworld announced Tuesday.

Five years ago, Regal purchased the Great Escape Theatre’s 25 locations for $91 million including the 14-screen theater in Moline. The theater was built by the New Albany, Ind.-based Great Escape.

The deal will give Cineworld, the United Kingdom's largest cinema operator, a larger global footprint. The Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal operates 561 theaters in 43 states.

Among the properties is Regal Moline Stadium H, located at 4100 38th St.

Cineworld is paying $23 cash per Regal share, marking an 11 percent premium over its closing price on Monday. The deal is valued at $5.9 billion including debt.

Regal operates 7,315 screens at its 561 U.S. theaters and under brands including Regal Cinemas and United Artists. Cineworld operates 2,227 screens in nations including the U.K., Ireland, Poland, and Slovakia.

The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2018. It was approved unanimously by the board of directors of Regal and Cineworld.

"We have long had high respect for Regal and for its strong position in the largest box office market in the world...," said Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld's CEO, in a news release. "Consolidation is an important move forward and the best practices we have successfully rolled out across Europe will be the key driver to continued success."

Staff and wire reports

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