AMC’s Deal for Carmike Cinemas Boosts Chinese Control of U.S. Theaters

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas Inc. in a cash deal that would make a Chinese-owned company the largest movie-theater operator in the U.S.

AMC will pay $30 a share for Carmike for a total payout of $1.1 billion, including the assumption of some Carmike debt, the companies said Thursday. The price is a nearly 20% premium to Carmike’s closing share price of $25.11 on Nasdaq.

The deal also makes AMC the world’s largest movie-theater operator. Currently Regal Entertainment Group is the largest theater company in the U.S. AMC is the second-biggest in the nation and Carmike is No. 4. The deal is subject to antitrust review by the Justice Department.

AMC was purchased in 2012 by China’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. for $2.6 billion. Wanda has made significant inroads in Hollywood since then, most recently purchasing “Jurassic World” financier Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in January.

Chinese companies have been on a global shopping spree in recent months, helping the Chinese government with its agenda to enter the global market and build the Chinese brand overseas.

WSJ.com - ERICH SCHWARTZEL