A massive 15 bids for the UK's Odeon cinemas are understood to havebeen submitted ahead of last Friday's (July 2) auction deadline.

Bids for the UK's largest cinema circuit, reported to be inthe region of £370m, were expected from a number of venturecapital-backed firms, including Guy Hands' Terra Firma Capital Partners,Michael Green's Tangent - with backing from JP Morgan Partners and WarburgPincus, and private equity firm HgCapital.

Other bidders expected to have made an offer include, Vue Cinemas- backed by Legal & General Ventures, and investment company BC Partners.

These, and others, will compete against property investorRobert Tchenguiz, who already owns 17.5% of the company.

The auction for Odeon began last month, when Goldman Sachsand Citigroup, the banks managing the auction, invited offers after Tchenguiz failed to acquire WestLB's43% stake in the 600-screen cinema chain.