French mini major MK2 has acquired Spain’s Cinesur cinema chain, the country’s third biggest chain.
“Our ambition is to create synergies between the two groups, notably in terms of programming and cultural events, and to export the same concepts which have made MK2’s cinemas in Paris such a success,” MK2 said in a statement. The company runs 11 cinema with a total of 65 screens in Paris as well as four high-end, private theatres.
The Cinesur cinema chain, which comprises nine multiplexes, 120 screens and 22,000 places, has sites in nearly all the major cities of southern Spain including Seville, Cordoba, Malaga and Toledo.
It was founded by Spain’s wealthy Sanchez-Ramade dynasty in 1932. The latter day Sanchez-Ramade Group, which was involved in construction and the white goods business, put the circuit on the sales block in 2011 when it hit financial problems.
UK exhibitor Cineworld made a bid for the chain in April 2011 but the deal fell through after the two parties could not agree final terms. According to a press release at the time Cineworld was to acquire gross assets worth €18.6m.
The French and Spanish press reported that MK2 had paid in the region of €10m for the chain but the company gave no details on the acquisition price.
MK2 CEO Nathanael Karmitz said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Friday that the acquisition had been made possible by a €15m cash injection by an investment fund at the beginning of 2014.
He said that aside from branching into Spain, the company wanted to extend its French circuit beyond Paris.
Asked about the wisdom of acquiring a cinema circuit in Spain at time when audiences were falling, Karmitz acknowledged that it had been difficult time for the Spanish exhibition scene due to the economic crisis as well as the increase in VAT on cinema tickets which has decimated audiences.
“The market has fallen by 30% but to get the public back into theatres we’re going to export our concepts such as original language programming, cinephile events, children’s workshops and events such as the Drive-in we did at the Grand Palais,” said Karmitz. “I’m that there will be an economic upturn in Spain.”
MK2 marks its 40th anniversary this year. Celebratory events include retrospectives in honour of its founder Marin Karmitz in Jerusalem, Sao Paolo and MoMa in New York as well as a night of free screenings in its cinemas in Paris on June 19.