Cinema giant Vue Entertainment has been sold to a private equity firm in a deal that will net its management a blockbuster windfall.
The UK’s third largest cinema chain is to be snapped up by Doughty Hanson in a deal worth around Â£450 million.
Management are picking up a reported Â£70 million from the sale, with co-founder and chief executive Tim Richards thought to be getting nearly Â£25 million for his share.
But the group’s bosses are re-investing some of the proceeds to retain a significant minority stake.
Vue has 68 cinemas with 678 screens across the UK and Ireland, while it also has a cinema in Portugal and one in Taiwan.
The group has been at the forefront of digital cinema development in the UK in recent years – it owns half of all new multiplex cinemas built nationwide in the past couple of years, including the new all-digital cinema in London’s Westfield shopping centre.
Doughty Hanson wants to continue rolling out new technology across the estate, with Vue recently announcing aims to update all its cinemas with digital projectors by 2012. It also plans to expand the chain further in the UK and across Europe, with possible acquisitions in store.
Mr Richards said: “Vue has come a long way since it was launched in 2003 and this next phase of our journey with Doughty Hanson as our new partner is going to be very exciting.
“We will continue to innovate, enhance and grow the business. We will continue to open fantastic new state of the art cinemas, such as the new 14 screen all digital Vue multiplex cinema in Westfield’s Stratford City which opens in September next year.”
Doughty Hanson beat off competition from rival private equity firm BC Partners and Canadian pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System to secure the deal.