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Cinema operator Vue toasts former Bacardi chief David as new chair


The cinema chain Vue International will this week name a former Bacardi-Martini executive as its new chair, as it nears the end of a complex financial restructuring.

Sky News understands that Stella David, who holds boardroom roles at companies including Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes, and Domino’s Pizza Group, has agreed to replace Robbie Barr as Vue’s chairman.

An announcement is likely to be made this week.

Ms David has had an extensive career in consumer-facing businesses, and will join Vue as it completes a debt-for-equity swap designed to place it on a sustainable long-term financial footing.

Vue operates 227 sites in nine countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy and Taiwan.

Its financial restructuring follows a torrid period for the cinema industry, with the pandemic having decimated income and studios increasingly experimenting with the release of films on streaming services.

The debt-for-equity swap has seen Vue’s lenders take ownership of the company, with the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) and Omers, the Canadian pension funds, relinquishing their shareholdings.

They had explored a sale of the company before the pandemic but did not proceed with a deal.

Cineworld, Vue’s London-listed rival, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has begun a sale process for its assets.

Tim Richards, Vue’s founder and chief executive, said Ms David’s “deep understanding of the consumer environment and strong track record of delivering growth, will be invaluable at this crucial moment for the business and our industry, and as we look to seize the opportunities that lie ahead”.

Vue has been linked with a possible bid for parts of Cineworld, although it has declined to comment on any interest.

Ms David said: “Over the past 18 months we’ve seen huge pent up demand for the cinema experience and – with lots of fantastic films set for release later this year – it’s a pivotal moment for the industry.”

In the UK, Vue ranks behind only Cineworld and Odeon by number of sites.

It remains unclear how long Vue’s new owners – its current lenders – will seek to retain control before selling or floating the company.


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