Belfast Telegraph

Manchester cinema-goers threatened with prices hike after merger, says watchdog

AMC Entertainment's deal to acquire the Odeon & UCI cinema chain risks falling foul of the UK's competition watchdog because it could lead to higher ticket prices for cinema-goers in Manchester.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that, because AMC Great Northern and Odeon Printworks are close competitors in the city, the acquisition risked "leading to higher ticket prices or reduced quality or service".

The Odeon & UCI cinema chain was sold by Guy Hands' private equity vehicle Terra Firma to AMC for £921 million in July.

Sheldon Mills, the CMA's senior director of mergers, said: "It is important that we ensure that cinema-goers in Manchester are protected against increased ticket prices or reduced quality or service as a result of this merger.

"Only effective competition between cinema operators can provide that assurance. So we hope that AMC will address our competition concerns."

The CMA added that it would launch an in-depth investigation into the deal unless AMC offers a remedy to address competition concerns by December 15.

Odeon is Europe's largest cinema chain and raked in more than one billion US dollars (£760 million) of revenue last year. The combined entity will boast 7,600 screens in eight countries.