Australian exhibitor Hoyts has been sold to Pacific Equity Partner in a defeat to India’s Pyramid Saimira Theatre, which had pursued the deal aggressively. James Packer’s Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. and West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd. are reported to have sold Hoyts Australian and New Zealand cinemas and stake in cinema advertiser Val Morgan in a deal valued at A$440m ($382m). The article by Bloomberg says that Packer is looking to sell media assets to invest more in gaming:
Pacific Equity plans to invest in Hoyts’s 40 Australian and nine New Zealand cinemas to reverse declining attendances. Third-quarter pretax profit at Hoyts fell 9 percent to A$8.5 million as a dearth of blockbuster movies hurt ticket sales.
“We believe there are opportunities for growth through further investment in digital entertainment and digital advertising media technologies,” Simon Pillar, Pacific Equity’s managing director, said in an e-mailed statement.
Publishing & Broadcasting and West Australian will each get A$150 million from the deal. The companies combined in January 2005 to acquire Hoyts from Packer’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd., for A$347 million.
The deal is a blow to the international expansion plans of Pyramid Saimira Theatres, who were reported to have offered A$450m for Hoyts, i.e. A$10m more than Pacific, but for whatever reason they lost out.