Chinese billionaire buys Hoyts for $A900m

The private equity owner shelved a float in favour of a trade sale

A Chinese billionaire’s investment fund has bought Hoyts Group, which operates the Hoyts and Berkeley cinemas.

Sun Xishuang is the founder of British Virgin Islands-based ID Leisure Ventures, which has acquired the Australian-based company for about $A900 million.

Pacific Equity Partners had been eyeing a possible stockmarket listing, with valuations for the group at about $A850 million.

But these plans were shelved in favour of a trade sale after a roadshow through Hong Kong, London and New York failed to excite investors.

Mr Sun is valued at $US1.3 billion by Forbes magazine and he is China’s 149th-richest person. He is chairman and 54% owner of Dalian Yifang Group, one of that country's biggest property development companies.

“We look forward to the investment and development of Hoyts going forward under the ownership of a new investor, ID Leisure,” Hoyts chief executive Damian Keogh says in announcing the sale.

“Hoyts is embarking on a number of exciting opportunities and, together with ID Leisure, we will continue to invest in the exceptional customer experience currently offered to 20 million attendees annually.”

The company recently launched the upmarket cinema brand Hoyts Lux and is the second-largest cinema chain in Australia and New Zealand.

It has 43 cinemas that contain more than 400 screens and around 89,000 seats. It also owns the cinema advertising business Val Morgan.

Recent reports say Hoyts posted about $A550 million in revenue for the latest financial year, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of just over $A80 million.

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