China’s Wanda has once agin put Hoyts up for sale. The chain was acquired in 2015 as part of Wanda’s global expansion drive, but it is now looking to complete the divestment of all overseas operation to focus on consolidating its position as the biggest Chinese cinema operator. Wanda has already sold its entire stake in AMC, the parent company of Odeon Cinemas Group in Europe.
Hoyts is the second largest cinema operator in Australia, with cinemas in New Zealand as well. In 2022 it operated 46 sites with a total of 412 screens. In addition, it is also the parent company of regional cinema advertising major Val Morgan. Credit Suisse and Nomura have been appointed to handle the sale.
Bidders are understood to have access to a “stapled debt” package (a line of agreed financing arranged by the banks) if the potential buyer cannot arrange sufficient finance of their own. A first deadline for bids is set at the beginning of May, with final offers to be submitted by the end of June.Variety
Expectations are that the sale could raise AUS $1 billion (USD $670 million), with a private equity firm seen as the most likely new owner. The code-name for the sale is “Operation Mario,” which could be a timely reference to the current Universal/Illumination hit “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” After being hit by closures relatively late in the pandemic, Hoyts revenue recovered to AUS $550 million ($369 million) in 2022, and is forecast to hit AUS $638 million ($427 million) in the current year.
The sale of Hoyts would represent a final step in Wanda’s retreat from ambitions to be a global film/cinema/entertainment major that spanned everything from theme park, film studios, an HQ presence in Beverly Hills and mooted parent company of production majors such as Dick Clark Productions. Meanwhile there is speculation that fellow Australian cinema operator EVT (formerly Event Cinemas) could be looking to try to once again to sell off its CineStar operation in Germany, after the original sale to Vue was terminated.