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Regal Entertainment Group, which operates a theater in downtown Springfield, agrees to be purchased by London-based Cineworld.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
Regal Entertainment Group, which operates a theater in downtown Springfield, agrees to be purchased by London-based Cineworld.

Downtown theater to again change ownership in buyout

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London-based Cineworld Group PLC entered into a definitive agreement to buy Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) in a deal valued at $5.9 billion, including debt.

Regal’s operations include the Regal College Station Stadium 14 theater located at 415 W. College St. in downtown Springfield. The company leases the building from developer Scott Tillman.

The largest cinema operator in the United Kingdom, Cineworld would gain Regal’s 7,315 screens in 561 theaters in the United States, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. The move more than doubles Cineworld’s 2,217 screens at 232 theaters, according to a news release.

If the buyout by Cineworld is approved, the transaction would mark the second time the Springfield theater has changed owners in four years. It opened in October 2008.

Regal took ownership of the theater in 2013 when it purchased Portland, Oregon-based Hollywood Theaters. The downtown building still has Hollywood Theaters’ signage.

Regal officials could not be reached for comment by deadline on when — or if — the Springfield theater would transition to Cineworld branding. Pending regulatory review, Cineworld expects to complete its purchase of Regal in the first quarter, according to the release.

The boards for both Cineworld and Regal unanimously approved the deal.

“Since becoming a public company, Regal has focused on delivering superior shareholder value, including return of capital in the form of regular and special dividends,” said Amy Miles, CEO of Regal, in the release. “We believe the transaction announced today provides compelling value for our stockholders.”

Minus debt, Cineworld’s proposed purchase of Regal is valued at $3.6 billion.

Regal’s shares were trading at $22.66 as of 12:08 p.m., compared with a 52-week range of $13.90 to $23.56.

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