Pioneering giant-screen entertainment company, Imax Corp, has hired investment firms Goldman Sachs and Wasserstein, Perella & Co to advise it on sale or merger opportunities. The company's share price jumped 18% to $26.50 yesterday on the news.

In a prepared statement, co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler said: "Our priority is to maximize Imax's long-term business potential for the benefit of its shareholders, employees, customers and the viewing public and we believe that this may be best accomplished by aligning ourselves with a larger entity.

"Our decision is also consistent with the desire of Wasserstein, Perella, our largest and one of our original shareholders, for additional liquidity in connection with its investment in the Company." An Imax spokesperson declined a request for further details.

According to the terms of Imax's shareholders' agreement, if Wasserstein, Perella wishes to sell its 30% stake, Gelfond and Wechsler must also sell their stakes, 4.1% and 4% respectively. The other major shareholders are investment funds The Oppenheimer Group with 7.11%, Capital Research Group, also with 7.11%, and Fidelity Management & Research Corp Group with 5.3%.

Imax dates back to 1967, when a group of Canadian filmmakers joined forces to improve multi-screen projections and develop a giant-screen format as well as specialised cameras and projectors. The original partners sold Imax in 1994 to Wechsler, Gelfond and Wasserstein, Perella and the company was taken public later that year. Today, there are more than 210 permanent Imax theatres operating in 26 countries.