Cinema chain AMC's shares shine in market premiere

Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:25am EST
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By Avik Das

(Reuters) - Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the U.S. theater chain controlled by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, rose about 10 percent in their debut, valuing the company at $1.88 billion as it returns to public markets after nine years.

AMC, the No.2 U.S. theater chain after Regal Entertainment Group, raised about $332 million after pricing its initial public offering of 18.42 million Class A shares at $18 each, the lower end of its expected range of $18-$20.

The company is controlled by China's Dalian Wanda Group, which is headed by Wang, the country's richest man with a net worth of $14 billion, according to Forbes.

Privately held Wanda retains about 80 percent of AMC.

AMC's shares touched a high of $19.79 in early trading after opening at $19.18. About 4 million shares changed hands by mid-morning, making the stock one of the most heavily traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The offering wraps up the strongest year for U.S. IPOs since 2007 as a buoyant stock market and a resurgence of capital markets in Europe and Asia encouraged private equity firms to take companies public.

In the first nine months of the year alone, 160 IPOs were completed in the United States, compared with 137 for the whole of 2012, according to global accountancy firm Ernst & Young.

Leawood, Kankas-based AMC, which also competes with Cinemark Holdings Inc and Carmike Cinemas Inc, owns, operates or holds interests in 343 theaters with a total of 4,950 screens in the United States as of September 30.   Continued...

Gerardo Lopez (L), AMC Entertainment CEO & president, reacts with Executive Vice President, Elizabeth Frank (C), and AMC Executive Vice President, Craig R. Ramsey, applauds after the announcement of the price for their IPO on the floor the New York Stock Exchange December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson