COVID-19: UK cinema chain, Vue, lines up £100m debt package to weather crisis


Britain’s third-largest cinema chain is in advanced talks to secure a fresh funding buffer to help weather the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Sky News has learnt that Vue International is close to agreeing the terms of roughly £100m in additional debt financing, just days after it began to reopen some of its UK multiplexes.
The new funding package is being lined up in addition to Vue’s existing borrowing facilities, and comes as the cinema industry prepares to show a slate of big-budget films delayed by the COVID-19  pandemic.
A number of major film exhibitors have found themselves facing scrutiny of their financial health as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns which affected numerous countries from March onwards, reports Sky News.
Some major film releases have bypassed cinemas as a result of the crisis, electing to go straight to streaming services – raising questions about the industry’s future.
In the UK, Cineworld has become embroiled in a legal row over its abandonment of a $2.1bn takeover of Canada’s Cineplex.
Odeon’s owner, AMC Theaters, is reported to be considering a range of options to deal with the crisis.
Tim Richards, Vue’s Chief Executive, said on Thursday: “Vue went into lockdown as one of the strongest companies in its sector and is playing a leading role in the industry’s renaissance now that customers are returning to big screen entertainment.
“To maintain the flexibility of continuing to invest confidently and prudently for the long term, we are reviewing all of our options.
“By the end of this week we will have reopened 150 cinemas across Europe and look forward to a great slate of new movies, starting with Tenet at the end of August.”
Vue, which operates about 90 cinemas in the UK, employs approximately 9,000 staff in 10 countries across Europe.
The company had been in the process of exploring its options, including a sale, prior to the pandemic, but this has now been put on hold.
It is majority-owned by ‎two Canadian funds: the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) and Omers, an Ontario-based pension fund manager.
Vue refinanced its debt in June last year, with none of its borrowings repayable until 2025.


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