Alexander Mamut's eyes glued on the screen

He is preparing to buy the largest cinema network, Cinema Park.
As Kommersant found out, the entrepreneur Alexander Mamut is in talks to buy Russia's largest theatrical network Cinema Park from Suleiman Kerimov's son, Said. In recent years the asset was estimated at $300-400 million, but because of the crisis the investment attractiveness of the network decreased. Mr. Mamut can rely on the merge of the network with another major player, which neither Mr. Kerimov nor the former owner of Park Cinema, Vladimir Potanin, never achieved. 

The fact that Alexander Mamut is interested in buying Cinema Park, was confirmed to Kommersant by two sources in the theatrical market and the one belonging to a businessman's holding Rambler & Co. According to one of them, the negotiations are in an advanced stage and the parties are close to a deal. Two sources close to the businessman confirmed that negotiations are under way, but insisted that "nothing has been signed yet."

Representatives of Mr Mamut and Cinema Park declined to comment. The investment company Altitude Management, which manages Cinema Park, did not respond to Kommersant's questions.

Cinema Park is the country's largest cinema network. According to Nevafilm Research, in November last year, it had 37 cinemas with 335 halls, which is 7.9% of the market by number of halls. The market is highly fragmented: the nearest competitor of Cinema Park is Formula Kino, which is controlled by the entity of Alfa Group: 266 halls and a share of 6.3%.

Suleiman Kerimov's son, Said, became the owner of Cinema Park in 2014, having bought the company from Vladimir Potanin. The transaction amount was not disclosed, experts estimated it at $300-400 million. Now, Mr. Kerimov is ready to sell the asset to a good buyer, says the Kommersant' source in the theatrical market. By purchasing this network, he expected to merge it with Formula Kino, creating a new major player. But a year of negotiations with the owners of Formula Kino didn't bring any results, and the deal fell last spring. Since then, Cinema Park only bought a cinema network in Perm, Very Velly, with three cinemas.

Meanwhile, the situation in the cinema market has become more complicated: people are less likely to go to the cinema and spend less money there, told Kommersant CEO of Karo, Nick Glusko, in August 2016; business is affected by macroeconomic factors and the exchange rate jumps. Earning in rubles, cinemas pay rent shopping centers and purchase equipment for the cinema in dollars and euros.

Deterioration of the cinema industry has already led to one deal: as reported previously by Kommersant, in July 2016, the largest investor left the ranks of shareholders of Karo: Baring Vostok fund. Given the market decline in dollar terms, the shareholder sold his stake in Russia's third largest cinema circuit without profit, said the Kommerstand's source familiar with the situation.

Being interested in buying Cinema Park, Mr Mamut can expect to complete what Said Karimov and Vladimir Potanin failed: to merge the cinema network with another major player in the market, according to two Kommersant's interviewees in the industry. "Getting bigger is the obvious logic, because none of the networks has significant market share," confirms CEO of Nevafilm Research, Oleg Berezin. As follows from the data of, in December, A & NN Investments Ltd, which belongs to Mr. Mamut, established a company with the name of JSC "United Cinema Networks."

Alexander Mamut, with a fortune of $ 2.4 billion, has 37th place in the ranking of the richest Russians in the Forbes magazine. He already has assets in the cinema sector. Since 2008, his entities have controlled the Pioneer cinema hall on Kutuzov Avenue. "Pioneer brings no profit, but it brings such pleasure that you can not buy on any profit," confessed the businessman to Russia 24 Channel. As reported by Kommersant on December 13, 2016, the company of Mr Mamut has acquired Khudozhetsvenny cinema at Arbat Square until 2036, pledging to ensure that it is repaired and restored, which is estimated at more than 1 billion rubles. He expects to recoup the costs for 10-12 years. In addition, Rambler & Co owns 50% of UCS whose ticketing system for movie theaters is integrated with a service for booking and ticketing Rambler.Kassa. Finally, the company owns the site with schedules of cinemas and film reviews.

This year Alexander Mamut has already completed a major transaction connected with the former assets of Vladimir Potanin: he had previously pledged to pay for the purchase of 50% of Mr. Potanin's Rambler & Co on an option for $ 295 million Yesterday, the parties announced the deal was closed..