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Cineplex to buy N.Y. theater chain

TORONTO -- Cineplex Odeon Corp., North America's largest film exhibitor, said Thursday it planned to acquire a New York theater circuit by purchasing all outstanding shares of Walter Reade Organization Inc. for $32.5 million.

Cineplex said it reached agreement in principle to buy the shares from Entertainment Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Co.

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Walter Reade has 11 screens in eight Manhattan locations.

The deal would consist of $22.5 million cash and 652,742 Cineplex common shares valued at $10 million, the company said.

Cineplex also said its New York-based RKO Century Warner Inc. subsidiary would sell to the Loews' theatre circuit the lease for Long Island's Roosevelt Field Century Theatre, an eight-screen complex, for $17 million.

Cineplex has made several acquisitions in the United States in the last two years and operates more than 1,400 screens in 455 locations across North America.

MCA Inc. of California, parent of Universal Studios, holds 50 percent equity stake in Cineplex but has only a one-third voting interest.

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