Competition is heating up totakeover a flagship UK cinema site in London's Leicester Square after theOffice of Fair Trading cleared investment vehicle Terra Firma's purchase ofexhibitor UCI provided it sold off certain cinemas in its estate.

Terra Firma controls boththe Odeon Leicester Square and the Odeon West End, in addition to the UCIEmpire.

Among other potentiallyinterested parties, Vue Cinemas is believed to be especially eager to increaseits presence in Londonns West End.

Interest was sparked afterTerra Firma bought Odeon Cinemas and UCI last year, giving the group 35% of theUK's box office takings. As expected, the OFT cited competition concerns over alist of sites headed by the prestigious Leicester Square cinemas owned by bothcircuits. However, the OFT said it would not refer the deal to the CompetitionCommission provided Terra Firma made the disposals.

Along with Leicester Square,the 11 local areas labelled as competition trouble spots are High Wycombe,Hatfield, Basildon, Poole, Sutton, Tamworth, Dudley, Clydebank, Newcastle andSurrey Quays.