Financial News

  • 19 January 2014, 20:38

Cinema Shake-Up Goes On As Odeon Boss Exits

The shake-up of one of Britain's biggest leisure industries will continue on Friday with the departure of the boss of Odeon UCI Cinemas.

Sky News understands that Rupert Gavin, who has run the privately-owned group for eight years, is to leave a year after its owner abandoned its latest attempt to sell the company.

Mr Gavin will be replaced by Paul Donovan, a former executive at Vodafone and Eircom, the Irish telecoms group.

The management change marks the latest significant move at the top of the cinema sector.

Steve Wiener, the chief executive of Cineworld, is leaving at the same time that the company embarks on a merger with Cinema City International, a Polish-based competitor.

Vue Entertainment, one of the other big players in the UK industry, was sold last year to a Canadian pension fund, while the much smaller Everyman chain floated on the London stock market.

Odeon UCI is owned by Terra Firma Capital Partners, the private equity group headed by Guy Hands.

Mr Hands bought and lost control of the music company EMI in acrimonious circumstances, but has enjoyed better fortune with some of his other investments.

A person close to Mr Hands said that Mr Gavin would become an adviser to Terra Firma and join the board of Garden Centre Group.

The outgoing Odeon UCI boss will also spend more time at Incidental Colman, his privately-owned theatre and entertainment group.

Terra Firma has tried to sell or float Odeon UCI on several occasions but buyers and stock market investors have refused to meet Mr Hands' asking price.

Insiders say the private equity group is now likely to hold onto the business for several more years.

During his time at the company, Mr Gavin has built it into the largest multiplex operator in Europe.

A statement announcing the changes is expected later on Friday. Terra Firma could not be reached for comment.

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