US buyout firm TheBlackstone Group has been cleared to take over UGC Cinemas provided that itsells six of its cinemas.
The Office of Fair Trading(OFT) said today that it will not refer the deal to the Competition Commissionif Blackstone sells certain cinemas where there are particular competitionconcerns.
Blackstone acquired UGC's UKand Ireland cinema circuit in December 2004, shortly after acquiring Cine-UK inOctober 2004.
TheOFT said that Blackstone's acquisition of UGC may lessen competition to thedetriment of cinema-goers in a number of areas across the country where bothUGC and Cine-UK operate.
Itsaid that Blackstone had offered to divest six cinemas in Boldon, Harlow,Swindon, Wigan, Birmingham and Ealing/Slough.
Blackstone is the second largestcinema operator in the UK behind Terra Firma. Blackstone currently operates 42UGC cinemas and 35 Cineworld cinemas across the UK.
Terra Firma operates 95Odeon cinemas in the UK and 32 UCI cinemas, which were acquired in 2004.
Vue operates 47 cinemasnationwide.