(Press Association) Cineworld has confirmed it is in advanced discussions with US cinema chain Regal over a $3.6bn (£2.7bn) takeover.
The all-cash deal, for $23 a share, would see the combination of Europe’s second-largest cinema group with the second-largest chain in the US.
Cineworld said that it would fund the potential acquisition of Regal through a mixture of debt and equity, raised through a rights issue.
The takeover will allow the enlarged group to “continue its current strategy of investment” and “maintain its policy of progressive dividends”, Cineworld said.
The group added: “Cineworld’s present strategy is to evaluate all opportunities to complement its organic growth.
“In keeping with this approach, it has continued to monitor possible selective acquisitions that have the potential to enhance its existing operations, and which allow it to expand into new markets.
“The potential acquisition of Regal would provide Cineworld with a highly attractive platform in the world’s largest cinema market.”
Cineworld has 2,049 screens across 221 sites and also owns the Picturehouse Cinemas chain.
The group has been buoyed this year by blockbusters Dunkirk and Despicable Me 3 as the multiplex chain also opened a string of new sites.
It also anticipates a strong slate of movie releases to help its performance in the coming months, including Paddington 2 and Justice League, and upcoming films Pitch Perfect 3, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Investors were wary of the funding of the deal – particularly the likely share-diluting rights issue. Shares in Cineworld fell 10.58% to 598.4p in early trade on London Stock Exchange.
Having gained 7.56% on Tuesday, shares in Regal were up a further 5.96% to $19.63 in pre-market trade in New York.