Cineworld cinema chain buys Poland-based CCI

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Image caption Global blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 are behind a big rise in cinema audiences

The UK's largest cinema operator is buying about 100 multiplexes in eastern Europe and Israel in a cash and shares deal worth about £500m.

Cineworld is buying the outlets from Cinema City International (CCI), which is listed on the Warsaw stock market.

The UK company will pay CCI £272m in cash, and has launched a £110m rights issue to help fund the purchase.

Cineworld chairman Anthony Bloom called the deal "an exciting and unique opportunity" for his company.

Audiences in eastern Europe are growing fast, and Mr Bloom said in a statement that the deal offered Cineworld exposure to "some of the most promising cinema markets in Europe".

CCI has cinemas in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary and elsewhere. The combined group will have 201 sites and 1,852 screens.

Under the deal, CCI will get a 24.9% stake in the merged business.

Cineworld's competitor Vue Entertainment agreed to buy Poland's second largest multiplex operator Multikino last year.

Cineworld, which floated on the stock exchange in 2007, operates four out of the 10 highest grossing cinemas in the UK and Ireland, and this is its first foray beyond these borders.

As well as operating the Cineworld brand, the company also owns 21 Picturehouse outlets.

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