Major Korean multiplex chainMegabox has secured investment from the private equity arm of StandardChartered Bank which has acquired a 45% stake in the company for $73m.

The deal follows anagreement reached last month for former Megabox shareholder, US exhibitor Loews Cineplex, to sell its 50% stake inthe company for $79m in cash. Standard Chartered is now the second largestshareholder in Megabox after its parent company Mediaplex.

Set up as a joint venturebetween Loews and Mediaplex in 2000, Megabox operates 15 cinemas with 126screens and plans to have more than 200 screens by 2007. Mediaplex also owns majorKorean film investor and distributor Showbox.

Loews, which also ownsscreens in the US, Spain and Mexico, is currently in the process of merging with rivalUS exhibitor AMC Entertainment. AMC recently handed over management of its11-screen cinema in Hong Kong to local exhibitor Broadway.

Standard Chartered PrivateEquity invests in mid to late stage companies in need of expansion capital oracquisition finance, and in management buy-outs, throughout China, India, Korea and Southeast Asia. The company states itis an "active partner that provides board-level strategic advice and access tothe international network of Standard Chartered Bank."

Megabox attributes StandardChartered's investment decision to the potential seen in the Koreanentertainment industry and long-term development possibilities. "They made ahigh assessment of Megabox's past five years' growth rate and competitivenessand decided to invest," said Megabox in a statement.