Australian media mogul Kerry Packer's private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) is selling Hoyts, but the Australian and New Zealand cinema chain is staying in the family.

Two publicly-listed companies, West Australian Newspapers Holdings and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) - nearly 40% of which is owned by CPH - are each paying A$173.5m to buy Hoyts.

PBL owns the highest-rating TV platform Nine Network, 25% of dominant pay-TV player Foxtel, a substantial stable of magazines, and gambling and other interests.

With 377 screens in 47 locations in the two countries, Hoyts is one of the big three regional exhibitors. The company returned to film distribution in 2001 and is also involved in a cinema advertising business.

The shift puts Hoyts back on the share market where it was for a few years until 1999 when CPH paid A$620m to convert its minority share into outright ownership.

CPH recently sold about half of Hoyts America to US company Regal Entertainment.

Observers of the media business see the first-time partnership between Packer and the newspaper group as an interesting move given the expected shake up of Australia's foreign and cross media ownership laws.

PBL shareholders will have to approve the purchase early next year. .