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Ster Century under sale to UCI

The American company United Cinemas International (UCI) is in the process of buying the Ster Century multiplex cinema network, which has a branch in Bratislava.
UCI, which is a joint venture of movie studios Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, is buying a total of eight multiplexes in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The parties to the sale have not yet set a date for completion of the deal.

The American company United Cinemas International (UCI) is in the process of buying the Ster Century multiplex cinema network, which has a branch in Bratislava.

UCI, which is a joint venture of movie studios Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, is buying a total of eight multiplexes in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The parties to the sale have not yet set a date for completion of the deal.

"Ster shareholders decided to sell their central and eastern European business almost two years ago, but none of the bids they received at the time were satisfactory. So they decided to put the whole process on hold. However, recently they received a very good offer from UCI," said David Horáček, Ster's GM of operations for the Czech and Slovak republics.

UCI offered $18.5 million for eight multiplexes in three countries in the region.

Ster Century's biggest shareholders - the companies Primedia and Kersaf Investments - decided to restructure their businesses to focus on key activities, said Horáček. Central and eastern European multiplexes accounted only for four to five per cent of Ster's total revenues, making the operation a relatively unimportant one, said Horáček.

Slovak and international media in March carried reports that Primedia and Kersaf were dumping Ster Century because it had not been able to yield a quick enough return on investment. "This is nonsense," said Horáček. "The whole [multiplex] business in the region is still in an early development phase. The investments, which were very high, will naturally not be returned in a few weeks or months. The costs of building one multiplex range from $2-6 million. This is a long term investment, so we can't think in terms of instant profits."

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