French mini-major Gaumont, the world’s oldest film company, is selling its 34% stake in its exhibition business, Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé, for €380M ($401.1M) to fellow shareholder Pathé. The divestment, which is a sure sign of Gaumont’s strategy to refocus on production activities, will see Pathé control France’s biggest cinema chain.
Gaumont has partnered with Pathé in the exhibition business for the past 16 years, operating not just in France but also Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The chain operates 1,076 screens across 108 theaters.
“We are pleased by the successful cooperation with Pathé over the last 16 years, which established Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé as a leading European movie theater operator,” said Gaumont CEO Sidonie Dumas. “The completion of this disposal will provide us with the resources to accelerate the promising development of our television production activities in the USA and in Europe, reinforce our cinema production and consider expanding Gaumont’s activities in Europe.”
Said Nicolas Seydoux, Chairman of Gaumont and Cinépar: “For decades, certain minority shareholders have been committed to supporting Gaumont. I wish to thank them for that. The disposal of this asset and the subsequent launch of an OPRA would provide them with an exit option from this high-risk business alongside a significant premium over the share price.”
At the end of last year, Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp sold off its multiplex business to Gaumont-Pathé, after EuropaCorp announced its intent to refocus on its core business activities: production and distribution of TV and film. The deal saw the exhibition chain take over EuropaCorp’s Aeroville 12-screen multiplex theater, which opened in 2013 in Tremblay-en-France near Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, as well as the La Joliette multiplex project in Marseille, which is under construction.