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GE Capital, CIT Among Lenders in Southern Theatres’ Acquisition of Movie Tavern

September 13, 2013, 07:36 AM
Filed Under: Specialty Industries

Southern Theatres announced that it has acquired Movie Tavern, a cinema eatery chain with 16 locations and 130 screens across seven states. The combined company is now among the ten largest exhibitors in the United States, and has 36 locations and 433 screens across 13 states. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

GE Capital, Webster Bank, Capital One and CIT are providing financing for the transaction. Peter J. Solomon Company acted as financial advisor and Haynes & Boone, LLP acted as legal advisor to Movie Tavern.

“This acquisition will be a fantastic catalyst for growth for our company, and we look forward to working with John Hersker and the entire Movie Tavern team to deliver on this strategy,” said George Solomon, CEO of Southern Theatres, which is a portfolio company of Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), a leading private equity investment firm focused on the information, education, media, communications and business services industries. “Movie Tavern has an outstanding team both within their home office and throughout their circuit, and they will be integral to this expansion plan.”

"All of us at Movie Tavern are passionate about giving our guests an outstanding entertainment and dining experience," said John Hersker, President and CEO of Movie Tavern, who will continue to manage the business, which has a presence in key markets such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia. "We are honored to be part of the Southern Theatres/VSS family, and look forward to working with George Solomon, Trent Hickman and their teams to grow the Movie Tavern concept and extend our reach into new markets.”

The acquisition of Movie Tavern is the company’s third add-on acquisition since Southern Theatres received an investment from VSS. “Southern Theatres and Movie Tavern are great examples of our strategy of pursuing accelerated growth through both internal expansion and add-on acquisitions. We see the potential to significantly expand Movie Tavern’s footprint over the next few years and are pleased to complete this acquisition in support of such an accomplished management team,” commented Trent Hickman, a Managing Director of VSS. “Movie Tavern has developed a terrific brand and expansion strategy. We are very happy to have completed the transaction and look forward to partnering with them to build on their outstanding results to date,” added Jeffrey Stevenson, Managing Partner of VSS.

In accordance with Southern Theatres’ existing long term cinema advertising agreement, the 16 acquired theatres will become part of the National CineMedia LLC cinema advertising network in mid-2014.

Proskauer Rose LLP, Lathrop & Gage LLP and Ernst & Young advised Southern Theatres on the transaction.

Southern Theatres, LLC was formed in May of 2002 by George Solomon. Solomon has been in the theatre business with his family for over 50 years and launched Southern Theatres to develop and operate state-of-the art multiplex stadium-seating movie theatres. Southern Theatres is responsible for the daily operations of The Grand Theatres, Amstar Cinemas, GrandLuxe Theatres, The Theatres at Canal Place and oversight of operations for Movie Tavern. The company operates 36 locations with 433 screens in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Southern Theatres is well positioned for continued expansion in key markets throughout the United States and is proud to be headquartered in New Orleans, LA.

Founded in 2001, Dallas-based Movie Tavern is a leader in the cinema eatery segment catering to adults and families with 16 high-quality theatres and 130 digital screens in seven states. Movie Tavern combines first-run movies with a casual dining menu and alcoholic beverages with full-service, in-auditorium dining. The company operates multiple locations in the following markets: Dallas/Ft. Worth (6), Houston (3), Atlanta (2), with additional locations in the Philadelphia, Denver, Columbus, Lexington and Williamsburg markets. A third Atlanta location opens in Roswell, GA in November 2013.

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