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AMC sells stake in Saudi Arabia joint venture, shifts to licensing partnership

Almost five years after AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. began screening movies in Saudi Arabia, the movie theater chain and meme-stock darling is selling its stake in its joint venture in the kingdom.

The company is also transitioning to a licensing relationship with Saudi Cinema Company, the joint venture it set up with Saudi Entertainment Ventures.

The agreement means that AMC
AMC,
+0.90%

will shift from a management and investment role in the SCC to a pure licensing partnership. Under the terms of the deal, the current 13 AMC locations in Saudi Arabia operated by Saudi Cinema Company will continue to use the AMC brand and other IP.

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On Tuesday AMC also announced that Saudi Entertainment Ventures has bought out the company’s stake in SCC, with repayment of AMC’s investment of $30 million.

AMC’s stock rose 1.6% before market open.

“Our plan all along was to transition our now 13 Middle East theatres to local management, after we trained them and opened beautiful theatres,” tweeted AMC CEO Adam Aron Tuesday. “They still will operate as AMC Cinemas. Plus we sold our 10% stake for $30 million, continuing to build our cash reserves. Cash is king!”

Also read: It’s National Popcorn Day — and AMC’s CEO is all over it

AMC has played a key role in the return of movie screenings to Saudi Arabia. On April 18, 2018, AMC hosted the country’s first moving screening since the 1980s, at King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, the company said, in a statement.

The company’s stock has fallen 51.6% in the last 12 months, compared with the S&P 500 Index’s
SPX,
+0.35%

decline of 11%.


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