No-one in Australia is publicly commenting on Regal Entertainment Group's widely publicised to buy 554 Hoyts America screens.

But then Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer, whose family company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) is apparently getting $200m split evenly between cash and stock from the sale, is not known for encouraging a culture of openness. And neither is the deal signed.

It is understood that Regal is buying about 60% of the circuit, and particularly the most profitable screens, and that CPH's resultant 5% shareholding in Regal may mean Packer's son James gets a seat on the board.

The deal will push Regal, which is owned by Philip Anschutz, to over 6,000 screens, including the Edwards Theatres and United Artists Theatres brands.

Hoyts owned about 1,800 screens worldwide until it sold off its 35% stake in the 337-screen Cinemex circuit in Mexico midway through last year. It is one of the three dominant players in Australia with nearly 370 screens across the country. Other Hoyts territories include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand and Uruguay.