Despite its stated intention of divesting itself of its exhibition interests, South African-owned multiplex operator Ster Century is forging ahead into the bustling Spanish cinema market with two new multiplexes planned for a spring opening.

The company's new complexes in Madrid and Basque Country capital Vitoria will open in April and May, respectively. The Spanish sites will bring the number of Ster Century venues operative in Europe to 15.

The company, which launched its first European activities in 1997, currently has four sites operating in Poland, three in the Czech Republic, two in Hungary, and one each in Ireland, Greece, Slovakia and the UK. Among the first of 21 sites projected to roll out by 2003 are three theaters in the UK and one more in the Czech Republic.

Growth plans appear to be unaffected by joint South African shareholders Royale Resorts and Primedia putting Ster Century on the market. Though a buyer has yet to be announced, sources at the company say there are several interested parties and negotiations are in progress.