Ann Sarnoff Joins Board of Cineworld as Cinema Giant Emerges From Chapter 11 Cases

Former WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff has joined the board of directors of Cineworld as the group emerges from Chapter 11 cases.

Cineworld Group and its subsidiaries had commenced Chapter 11 cases in the United States Bankruptcy Court in September 2022. On Aug. 1, 2023, the group, which operates the Regal cinemas chain in the U.S., said it had successfully completed its financial restructuring process and had emerged from its Chapter 11 cases.

While existing shareholders are largely wiped out, the restructuring moves include an $800 million rights issue to raise new capital, the release of some $4.35 billion of the group’s funded indebtedness and the provision of $1.71 billion of new debt financing. Within those new borrowings is a revolving credit facility of $250 million.

“With this strengthened and recapitalized balance sheet, the group is well-positioned to pursue future strategic initiatives and continue providing leading cinematic experiences for customers globally, including through investments in new screen formats and enhancements to its flagship theatres,” the group said.

Sarnoff left her WarnerMedia post during the company’s merger with Discovery in 2022. She previously held senior executive positions at BBC Studios and Viacom. Cineworld said that Sarnoff’s entertainment experience and industry relationships would prove “invaluable” for the group as it “deepens its relationships with studios and content suppliers” and that the executive “also brings a honed sense of how to engage and delight global audiences.”

Other appointees to the board of directors include Patrick J. Bartels, the managing member of Redan Advisors LLC; Stephen Joyce, the former CEO of Dine Brands Global, the franchisor of IHOP and Applebee’s Grill + Bar, as well as a former executive at Marriott International; Stefano Malfitano, a principal at Cyrus Capital Partners; and Blythe J. McGarvie, the former CEO of LIF Group and former CFO of Hannaford Bros., a Fortune 500 company.

As previously announced, the Cineworld board will be led by former Pepsi CEO Eric Foss and former Cinepolis boss Eduardo Acuna is Cineworld’s next CEO, replacing Mooky Greidinger.

Foss said: “With a transformed balance sheet and a right-sized capital structure, Cineworld is ready and fully able to succeed in this dynamic and constantly changing movie theater industry. I am truly excited to introduce the impressive group of directors who will be joining our new board and whose expertise and leadership in various fields will help us to grow Cineworld’s business and ensure that our theaters continue to be moviegoers’ first choice for memorable cinema experiences.”

“Cineworld has a strong platform, and its brands – including Regal, Cinema City, Picturehouse, and Planet – are some of the most iconic in our industry. We are excited and energized by the bright future ahead of us and look forward to delivering a great guest experience to our valued customers, filled with high-quality entertainment and fun,” Foss added.

Acuna said: “With its talented group of employees, significant number of distinguished business partners and devoted customers around the world, Cineworld has what it needs to reach new levels of success. We will continue to put our guests at the center of everything we do and look forward to continuing to break new ground in our industry.”

Cineworld officially went into administration in the U.K. on July 31 as part of the restructuring process.

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