February 2, 2018 / 12:11 PM / 10 months ago

UK's Cineworld investors back Regal Entertainment deal

Feb 2 (Reuters) - Britain's Cineworld said a majority of its shareholders backed a $3.6 billion deal to buy U.S. cinema chain Regal Entertainment.

Shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) had urged investors last week to oppose the deal, citing "significant financial and operation risks."

Other shareholder advisory firms, including PIRC, had recommended that investors back the takeover.

London-listed Cineworld agreed in December to buy Regal Entertainment through a reverse takeover funded with debt and a 1.7 billion pound ($2.42 billion) share sale.

Cineworld said 87.34 percent of votes cast at a general meeting backed the acquisition, which will give the British company a presence in the U.S. market and transform it into the world's second-biggest cinema chain by number of screens, with more than 9,500.

A majority of Cineworld shareholders also approved the share sale to fund the deal, the company said on Friday.

"As will be seen from the proxy votes, there was very strong support from shareholders for the acquisition," Cineworld's Chairman Anthony Bloom said in a statement.

The takeover would put the combined company in a better position to take on industry leader AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, and give it more scale to fight growing competition from Netflix Inc, Apple Inc and other digital outlets.

Cineworld expects to complete the transaction on or before March 2. ($1 = 0.7033 pounds) (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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