Cineworld Obtains Three Months Delay of Payout to Regal Shareholders

Multinational cinema operator Cineworld says that it has reached an agreement with creditors over a disputed and delayed repayment. The agreement gives Cineworld three additional months to settle the debt.

The London Stock Exchange-listed company acquired U.S. theaters giant Regal Entertainment in 2017 for an agreed $3.6 billion. But a group of minority dissenting shareholders claimed that Cineworld had underpaid.

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Between May and September last year Cineworld and the investors, known as the Regal Litigation Parties, agreed that Cineworld should pay an additional $255 million. In September, Cineworld said that it would pay $170 million, with a further $92 million placed in escrow and to be paid out no later than the end of March 2022.

Under the latest deal, Cineworld said it is now “agreed that the remaining $79.3 million (plus interest and fees) owed under the facility will be paid to the Regal Litigation Parties in instalments with a final payment due on 30 June 2022, rather than the previously agreed date of 31 March 2022.

The deal buys Cineworld more time, but also demonstrates how much COVID-19 has damaged the theatrical sector and the corporations within it. The entire Cineworld group, including Regal, currently has a market capitalization of £533 million or $720 million.

Cineworld is also being sued by another exhibition firm Cineplex, which Cineworld proposed to buy for $2.1 billion in December 2019. In June 2020, with COVID restrictions having closed cinema operations across North America and Europe, Cineworld announced the cancelation of its purchase.

In December, a court in Ontario, Canada, awarded Cineplex $957 million( C$1.24 billion) for Cineworld’s failure to go through with the deal. Cineworld has launched an appeal against the court judgement, which would require it to pay a penalty that is greater than its market valuation. And Cineplex has launched a cross-appeal against Cineworld’s legal action. No payment is expected while the dispute smolders.

In order to survive two years of deeply uncertain trading conditions caused by the COVID pandemic Cineworld has taken out multiple loans and revealed that it considered voluntary insolvency.

Losses in 2020 amounted to $2.65 billion, but these were reduced to just $209 million in the first half of 2021.

In its latest trading statement, the group said that revenues rebounded further in the second half of 2021, with North America the highlight, where business reached 91% of normal levels in December.

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