Cineworld files for US bankruptcy

·1-min read

British movie theatre operator Cineworld Group says it has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US as the world's second-largest cinema chain operator struggles to find other ways to restructure its debt-laden balance sheet.

The Chapter 11 filing, which can allow a company to stay in business and restructure its debt, involves Cineworld's US, UK and Jersey businesses.

The Regal cinemas owner has repeatedly warned that any de-leveraging transaction would lead to very significant dilution of existing equity interests.

While the cinema industry has been struggling to recover from the pandemic, which has led to fewer blockbusters, lower theatre attendance and increased popularity of streaming, Cineworld's specific issue is the amount of debt it has amassed over the years.

The company took on debt to fund part of its $US3.6 billion ($A5.4 billion) purchase of Regal in 2017 and more to survive the pandemic.

Its net debt including lease liabilities stood at $US8.9 billion at the end of 2021.

Excluding lease liabilities, its net debt was $US4.84 billion at that time.

The company's market value was just 54 million pounds ($A92 million) at Tuesday's close.

Cineworld operates more than 9000 screens across 10 countries and employs about 28,000 people.