Universal Studios has sold its 25.5% stake in exhibitor Loews Cineplex for $1. The studio, a division of Vivendi Universal, sold more than 15m shares to investment bank Goldman Sachs, in a tax move to offset capital gains. The stake was worth approximately $1.8m based on a share price of 12 cents. Universal originally held shares in Canadian cinema circuit Cineplex Odeon before the circuit merged with Sony's Loews Cinemas. Sony Pictures Entertainment retains a 39.5% stake.
Loews Cineplex, one of several North American exhibitors to collapse after over-extending itself during the multiplex boom, is the target of a distress takeover mounted by Toronto-based Onex Corp. and partner Oaktree Capital Management. The circuit has indicated it will close 108 locations comprising 645 screens in the U.S., 79 locations comprising 501 screens in Canada and one site each in Austria and Poland comprising 14 screens.
Earlier this month a US bankruptcy court rejected a creditor-driven bid to end the circuit's management-controlled bankruptcy re-organization.