Vivendi Universal is looking to pull out of United Cinemas International (UCI) - its international exhibition joint venture with Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures.

A report in the Financial Times on Wednesday (April 10) said that Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier was looking to make an exit from UCI in order to lower Vivendi's debt levels.

According to the same report, at least one rival cinema operator, thought to be UK-based Spean Bridge, was negotiating to buy Vivendi's stake in the multiplex operator, which could be worth close to $880m. Both Vivendi and UCI declined comment.

As a result of the report, shares in Vivendi Universal fell on Wednesday morning to their lowest level in four years to Euros 37.30.

UCI ranks among the largest cinema operators outside the US, with an estate of 120 cinemas in 12 countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Japan and Taiwan. Its screen count stands at 1,091.

The company last month acquired sites in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia from Ster Century Europe.

Earlier this week, it was reported that UK exhibitor Cine-UK, which operates 276 screens at 25 sites through its CineWorld label, had put itself on the market.