Leceister Square Foyer 1

Source: Cineworld

Cineworld Leceister Square

Cinema operator Cineworld is reportedly working with advisors on a strategic review that could lead to the disposal of its UK operations.

Sky News reported over the weekend that Cineworld has begun contacting prospective bidders. It said that AlixPartners, the restructuring adviser which handled the administration of Cineworld’s London-listed holding company last year, has been drafted in to work on the process.

Citing City sources, Sky News said that the cinema giant is also expected to explore the option of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – a further restructuring process which could put an unspecified number of its UK cinemas at risk of closure.

The Cineworld group currently operates in 10 countries with 751 sites and 9,189 screens.

Sky reported that a sale process only relates to its UK business and that it was unclear whether Picturehouse, which Cineworld owns, is also part of the auction.

A spokesperson for Cineworld told Screen: “Like many businesses, we are continually reviewing our UK operations.”

Cineworld emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US last summer with former Cinepolis exec Eduardo Acuna taking over as CEO.

In an interview with Screen in April, Acuna – speaking from the company’s US headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee – was asked about talk that Cineworld UK was downsizing in the UK and handing back sites to landlords and negotiating exits from leases.

Acuna said the UK “did not have the benefit of going through a Chapter 11 process and trimming the rents as much as we did in the US, but we do have constant conversations with our landlords to make sure we run a profitable business. In some locations we have high rents that we need to talk to our landlords about and negotiate with them. I would not say there is a desire to reduce the size of the circuit.”