In pursuance of the agreement in principle announced in July, Kinepolis Group finalised the takeover of Utopolis (Utopia SA), with the exception of the Belgian companies. The takeover concerns 9 cinemas established in 3 countries, i.e. the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France. The takeover of the four Belgian cinemas is still subject to the Belgian Competition Authority's approval.
Utopia SA operates three cinemas in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (two in Luxembourg City and one in Esch-sur-Alzette), five in the Netherlands (Oss, Almere, Zoetermeer, Den Helder and Emmen), one in France (Longwy) and four in Belgium (Mechelen, Turnhout, Aarschot and Lommel), which are not yet part of the transaction.
Utopia SA mainly operates multiplex cinemas and owns the property of several of its cinema complexes, as does Kinepolis. In 2014, Utopia SA welcomed 2.3 million visitors and achieved a turnover of € 28.3 million and EBITDA of € 4.9 million in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France.
Eddy Duquenne, CEO Kinepolis Group: "Utopolis' takeover is a milestone in the history of our company and in the realisation of our expansion strategy. In one go, we strengthen our position in France and the Netherlands, and with Luxembourg, we are adding a new market to our portfolio. Regarding the Belgian cinemas, I am convinced we have a strong case and I trust the Competition Authority's judgement. We look forward to investing again in Belgium as well and above all, to offer the ultimate movie experience to more visitors."
Nico Simon, CEO Utopia: "The takeover of the cinemas of Utopia by Kinepolis guarantees the continuation of sustainable development for the cinemas concerned. I am pleased that this takeover, which gives a future to something we started thirty years ago, is being done by a group known for its dynamic approach and professionalism, constantly striving to stay at the forefront of the experience for the customer. That has also been our philosophy."
The value of the entire transaction will be announced once the decision regarding the acquisition of the Belgian companies is definite.
Background of the notification duty to the Competition Authority
At the establishment of Kinepolis Group in 1997, following the merger with the Group Claeys, the Belgian Competition Authority laid down a specific ordinance relating to restrictions regarding Kinepolis' expansion on Belgian territory. In 2007, Kinepolis requested these restrictions be lifted and the Competition Authority complied. However, a number of cinema groups active on the Belgian market appealed and the Competition Authority's decision to lift the restrictions was reversed by the Court of Appeal. This means that Kinepolis, to date, is still bound by the specific conditions laid down in the ordinance of 1997, despite a strongly evolved market since then. Without the restrictions laid down in 1997, a transaction of this size would not require a notification duty. The application regarding the takeover of the Belgian Utopolis cinemas is currently under review by the Competition Authority. A decision is expected before the end of the year.