Cineworld may have to sell Aberdeen Belmont cinema

CINEMA operator Cineworld may have to sell the Belmont in Aberdeen and two sites in England after the Competition Commission (CC) yesterday completed its probe into its takeover of rival Picturehouse.

Aim-quoted Cineworld, which runs 79 sites, bought Picturehouse’s 21 cinemas in December. The Office of Fair Trading had suggested five cinemas should be sold, but the CC has now ruled that only issues in Aberdeen, Bury St Edmonds and Cambridge need to be addressed.

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Cineworld chief executive Stephen Wiener said: “We are disappointed that, in these three locations, we have been unable to convince the CC that Cineworld and Picturehouse are two fundamentally different businesses that could operate in the same area.”

Steve Liechti, an analyst at joint house broker Investec, added: “Cineworld will work with the CC to respond to its findings as Picturehouse and Cineworld look very different product offers but, to be conservative, we intend to assume this means asset sales.”

Picturehouse’s most-popular films in the opening half of the year included Django Unchained, The Great Gatsby and Les Miserables,