Korean film group CJ-CGV has acquired leading Turkish theatre chain Mars Cinema in a deal reported to be worth $687 million. CJ-CGV, the largest multiplex cinema chain in South Korea with branches in China, Vietnam and the U.S., is leading a consortium as part of the acquisition of 100% of Mars. CJ-CGV will hold 38% of the company on closing the deal, with its partners holding the remaining 62%. A number of companies had kicked the tires of Mars, including China’s Wanda, which instead announced in March it had acquired Carmike through its wholly owned exhibition division AMC Entertainment to create the biggest theater chain the U.S.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had been brought on to manage the sale by Mars Entertainment Group’s owners Actera Group and Esas Holding AS. The Turkish owners had initially wanted to spark a sale in early 2015, only to see political instability in the country following two elections last year sparking volatility in the market.
Actera and Esas owned 69.5% of Mars, with the group’s founders, including chief exec Muzaffer Yildirim and Menderes Utku, holding the remainder. Mars owns the Cinemaximum chain, with about 600 screens nationwide.
Turkey has a strong, robust box office business, driven as much by local comedies and action pics as it is by big budget western fare. Cinema tickets sold in the country rose 23% to 55.4 million in 2015, while the number of total theaters rose by 3.2%. Mars cinemas accounted for more than half of Turkey’s total box office.