Cineplex is being sold to a British movie theatre chain

Canada's largest cinema chain has just announced what it calls a "definitive agreement" to be purchased by the U.K.-based Cineworld in a deal valued at roughly $2.8 billion.

Cineworld, which currently operates 9,498 screens at 786 sites across Europe, would acquire ownership of Cineplex's 165 movie theatres, as well as assume all of the publicly-traded Canadian company's debt.

If approved by shareholders for both companies, the deal is expected to close sometime over the first half of 2020.

"With over 11,200 screens around the globe, the proposed transaction will create one of the world's largest cinema companies, providing Cineplex with scale and all the benefits associated with a global enterprise," reads a release issued by Cineplex on Monday.

"The transaction also creates a new partner for the Canadian film industry to collaborate with, as Cineworld Group has extensive distribution and exhibition businesses outside of Canada."

Cineplex said in its release that the sale is necessary to "compete effectively in an evolving entertainment landscape."

The Toronto-based corporation has branched out significantly beyond the realm of cinema operations since its founding as Galaxy Entertainment in 1999, venturing into the worlds of VR, bars & restaurants, arcades and loyalty reward programs.

Cineplex currently operates theatres under the names of Cineplex Cinemas, Cineplex Odeon, SilverCity, Galaxy Cinemas, Cinema City, Famous Players, Scotiabank Theatres and Cineplex VIP Cinemas, as well as dozens of "Xscape Entertainment Centre" licensed arcades, Mississauga's Playdium complex and The Rec Room in Toronto.

"Since Cineplex went public in 2003, we have been committed to delivering value to our shareholders. We believe this transaction today is both financially compelling and in our shareholders best interest," said the company's President and CEO, Ellis Jacob.

"Cineworld Group shares our passion for entertainment and mirrors our commitment to delivering exceptional guest experiences through state-of-the-art technology."

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