Odeon, Britain’s biggest cinema chain, is preparing to hire bankers to oversee a blockbuster summer flotation on the London Stock Exchange.
Sources said that AMC was likely to try to raise well over £500m by selling shares in Odeon, which also owns the Nordic cinema business in Scandinavia.
The company plans to sell a minority stake in the company while retaining overall control.
A float could value Odeon at somewhere in the region of £1.5bn, according to insiders.
Its plans have been triggered by the need to raise capital to reduce debts at AMC’s parent, the Chinese group Dalian Wanda.
New York-listed AMC said in November that it might pursue an IPO of Odeon by mid-2019, although City sources believe it will be announced by the middle of this year.
That timetable could put it on collision course with Vue Entertainment, its biggest rival in Britain, whose owners are also exploring a stock market listing or sale.
AMC dismissed a report late last year that Vue could seek to buy Odeon as “absolute rubbish”, and industry sources now expect Vue to be sold to a cinema operator from Asia or Latin America rather than pursue another big takeover of its own.
Last year was another record year at the UK box office, with data provider ComScore putting the total take at almost £1.3bn, up 5% on the previous year.
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Revenues were buoyed by blockbusters including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Dunkirk and Paddington 2.
An Odeon spokesman declined to comment.