Cineworld raises curtain on £336m lifeline

Cineworld has secured a £336 million ($450m) debt lifeline to help guide the troubled cinema chain through the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Cineworld shut the doors to 633 of its cinemas. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The group, which has temporarily closed its UK and US sites, said it has also secured access to another £233m in liquidity to boost its finances. The new lending facility will mature in 2024.

Last month, Cineworld shut the doors to 633 of its cinemas. Its network in Scotland includes Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Falkirk, and Glasgow. It was one of a raft of cinema chains to be affected by the pandemic, as film studios push back the release dates of major new movies, including the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, to 2021.

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Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of Cineworld, said: "Over the long term, the operational improvements we have put in place since the start of the pandemic will further enhance Cineworld's profitability and resilience.

"The group continues to monitor developments in the relevant markets in which we operate and our entire team is focused on managing our cost base. We look forward to resuming our operations and welcoming movie fans around the world back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films in 2021."

Cineworld said it has also extended an £83m revolving credit facility, which was due to expire next month, to May 2024, and pulled forward an expected tax refund of more than £150m to early 2021.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The curtain has been raised on a more positive picture for Cineworld, with the company grabbing hold of another financial lifeline as the post pandemic world comes more sharply into view.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine results have washed another wave of relief over the entertainment and hospitality industry, with hopes raised again that mass inoculation programmes will inspire movie goers to snap up seats once cinemas reopen.

“The company is still eyeing May next year for a grand reopening of movie theatres around the world, but that will depend on just how quickly studios schedule big releases. It’s hoped the vaccine breakthroughs will help unblock the pipeline of productions, however that is likely to depend on the success and speed of mass inoculations.’’

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