Icon has acquired the 35 cinema screens in Australia and the distribution interests that underpin one of Australia's key arthouse film brands, Dendy.

Becker Group Limited announced the sale today and said it was worth a 'cash consideration' of $19.4m (A$21m). The sale is expected to be completed by Mar 31.

A competitive bid process was used and Becker managing director Warwick Syphers said Icon was selected based on various parameters including value, timing and transaction certainty.

Icon already distributes films in Australia and New Zealand but is new to cinema operation. The sale also includes interests in a cinema in New Zealand. The fate of Dendy Films is not known.

The announcement states that the buyer was Icon Film Distribution, but in a memo to staff Syphers said it was Icon Productions Pty Ltd, 'a company associated with Mr Bruce Davey and (we believe) Mel Gibson'.

Davey was born in Australia and Gibson trained as an actor there. It was Gibson's appearance in Mad Max that lead him to Hollywood.

'We believe they will be a competent, strong owner and well positioned to grow the businesses,' Syphers told staff in relation to Icon.

Syphers is the head of the Prime Media Group, a regional broadcaster, which bought Becker for its television assets in mid-2007 for about $27.7m (A$30m).

Father-and-son team Russell and Richard Becker, majority shareholders of the public company carrying their name, planned to buy the cinema interests as part of the deal, but Australia's Takeovers Panel put a stop to this.

Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten, who have headed Dendy Distribution for four years, resigned early in January to start the new distribution entity Transmission, which will conduct most of its business through a joint venture with Paramount in Australia.