Mexico City's leading exhibitor, Grupo Cinemex, has expanded beyond the capital's borders by acquiring 100% of General Cinema Mexico (GCM), an alliance between General Cinema International and Fondo Optima.

By pouncing on GCM's five cinemas and 62 screens - located in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Leon and Aguascalientes - the five-year old exhibitor has boosted its screen count to 324 screens at 29 sites.

"This acquisition further solidifies our position in the Mexico City metropolitan area (MCMA) and should push our national market share to over 25%," said Cinemex co-director general Matthew Heyman. Cinemex currently enjoys a 50% share of the capital's box office and an estimated 25% share of the entire country's box office.

"We plan to continue our annual development pace of 50 to 70 MCMA screens over the next three years, to reach our goal of 450 screens in the MCMA," Heyman said. Cinemex is poised to open four more cinemas with 40 screens by the end of this year.

Founded by Harvard graduates Heyman, Miguel Angel Davila and Adolfo Fastlicht, Cinemex had, until now, focused on Mexico City's vast population of 22 million. "[We're] currently analysing how the company can maximise the value of GCM cinemas located in Guadalajara, Leon and Aguascalientes which are outside our core strategy," Heyman said.

In 2000, Cinemex expects to generate more than $72m in net box office and total revenue in excess of $120m.