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Dealwatch: HSF, Clifford Chance and Slaughters take the spotlight in Cineworld expansion

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has landed a role advising Barclays, JP Morgan and Investec on Cineworld Group‘s £107m rights issue and £504m acquisition of Warsaw-listed Cinema City International, a deal announced yesterday (09 January) that would create a cinema chain with almost 2,000 screens across Europe and Israel. Corporate partners Mike Flockhart and Chris Haynes are leading the team, with US securities advice from Steve Thierbach.

Slaughter and May is advising Cineworld, with corporate partners Mark Zerdin and David Johnson taking the lead.The firm is part of a team of other international firms including Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison (US law), Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak (Polish law), Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov (Bulgarian law), Nagy és Trócsányi (Hungarian law), Havel, Holásek & Partners (Czech and Slovakian law), Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen (Romanian law) and Herzog Fox & Neeman (Israeli law).

Clifford Chance is acting for Cinema City, with a team led by corporate partners Jonny Myers and Spencer Baylin. Linklaters also has a role on the deal advising other financial advisers.

The deal, should it complete, would combine Cineworld’s 101 UK cinemas with Cinema City’s 99 cinemas that are spread over Israel, Poland and the Czech Republic. The move comes as Cineworld’s rivals have expanded overseas, with Odeon operating in seven countries while Vue Entertainment has a presence in five.

Cineworld’s market value was £590m yesterday while Cinema City was valued at 1.5bn Polish Zloty (£305m). The major attraction of Cinema City could well be the growth that it has enjoyed between 2009 and 2012. During that period, the company saw revenues increase by 14.2% and is reported to have a strong pipeline of screen openings in place to ensure further growth.

The cinema industry has been particularly active deal-wise over the past year: in June 2013 Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Debevoise & Plimpton and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom all took roles on the £935m sale of Vue Entertainment by private equity firm Doughty Hanson to Canadian investors OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporation.