Cineworld shares dive on reports of no bidders for UK, U.S. assets
(Reuters) - Shares of Cineworld slumped as much as 22% on Wednesday after media reports said the world's second-largest cinema operator had received 40 non-binding bids, but none for its UK and U.S. assets or nearing its $6 billion secured debt load.
The reports cited company counsel Joshua Sussberg's comments to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston on Tuesday, where he also said the initial bids received by a Feb. 16 deadline were all for the rest of Cineworld's global assets, mainly for theatres in central Europe, eastern Europe and Israel.
In January, the company said it would focus on a sale of the group as a whole rather than individual assets, months after the British cinema operator filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in its bid to restructure debt and strengthen its balance sheet.
When requested by Reuters, Cineworld did not immediately confirm details of the update it provided to the court.
The reports also said the company was proposing an April 10 deadline for final bids, with an auction, if necessary, to follow on April 17. A vote on restructuring has been set for May 21, with a court confirmation hearing tentatively set for May 30.
"The deadline for bids is early April, so the clock is ticking and after that, one of the few remaining options available to the firm would be a debt-for-equity swap," said AJ Bell analyst Russ Mould.
Shares of the Regal Cinemas owner hit a near one-month low of 3.5 pence in morning trade. The stock has lost about 98% of its value since the start of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions battered its operations.
The stock was down about 13% at 3.92 pence as of 1305 GMT.
Last month, Bloomberg News reported that Cineworld has shuttered 23 theatre sites since filing for bankruptcy protection and was planning more closures.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil and Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)