Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Business: The Company File
Virgin sells cinemas
Money will be reinvested in the Megastore chain
Richard Branson's Virgin Group has sold its UK and Irish cinema chain to French film company UGC for £215m.
The money raised by the sale will be used to expand Virgin's Megastore music and computer software chains in the US and Asia, and to develop e-commerce projects.
Virgin will hold on to its cinemas in Japan and the US.
The 300 Virgin cinemas in the UK and Ireland will be rebranded as UGC cinemas within six to eight months, a spokesman said.
UGC, which is backed by French media giant Vivendi, has also agreed to a £17m contract to sell Virgin Cola products at the cinemas for "several years".
Virgin said it was negotiating to have its drinks sold in other cinemas across Europe.
Virgin shortlisted six potential buyers for its cinemas last week.
The group bought the screens from the Metro Goldwyn Mayer film studio four years ago.
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