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Carnival Films gets CCI nod to acquire Big Cinemas

MUMBAI: Carnival Films Private Limited, the youngest and most ambitious player in the cinema exhibition space, has got a go-ahead from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for the proposed acquisition of the theatrical business of Reliance MediaWorks (RMWL) housed under Big Cinemas.

In December last year, Kochi-based Carnival Films had inked an agreement with the Anil Ambani-owned RMWL to pick up entire stake in the multiplex business for Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion). As part of the deal, 238 screens constituting 88 cinemas (72 multiplex, 16 single screens) of Big Cinemas were proposed to be transferred to Carnival.

Later in January, Carnival acquired Network18’s entire stake in Stargaze Entertainment, which operates Glitz Cinemas.

After taking into consideration both these transactions, the fair trade regulator has given its approval to the deals.

“The Commission is of the opinion that the proposed combination is not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India and therefore, the Commission hereby approves the same under sub-section (1) of section 31 of the Act,” CCI said in its order dated 24 March.

The deal with RMWL was a mix of debt and cash proceeds and excluded the real estate properties owned by RMWL at IMAX Wadala.

Incidentally, Carnival Group has also hinted at an initial public offering (IPO) in future and Reliance Capital will have the option to acquire a pre-IPO minority stake in Carnival Cinemas at an “appropriate discount”.

Carnival Films is eyeing 1,000 screens by 2017. Post the two acquisitions, Carnival Films will be India’s third largest multiplex operator, after PVR and Inox, with a nationwide presence of over 330 screens.

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