HomeBusinessMoneySTOCKS TO WATCH: Cinema rivals square up for a court blockbuster

STOCKS TO WATCH: Cinema rivals square up for a court blockbuster

STOCKS TO WATCH: Cinema rivals square up for a court blockbuster; music streaming firms under scrutiny

Bosses in the Covid-crunched cinema trade are ready to slip into their tuxedos for the crucial return of James Bond this month.

But before that, a blockbuster worthy of 007 – in legal circles at least – kicks off tomorrow in Ontario as Cineworld and Canada’s Cineplex arrive in court.

The showdown centres on the bitter fallout from the British operator’s decision last year to pull out of a £1.6billion takeover that would have made it the largest operator in North America. 

Legal battle: Cineworld and Canada’s Cineplex will meet in court on Monday

Cineworld claims Cineplex breached the deal’s terms, while its rival argues Cineworld suffered ‘buyer’s remorse’ between agreeing the deal in December 2019 and pulling out in June 2020 as the pandemic raged.

Cineworld is labouring under £6billion of debt and is weighing a float of its US arm to raise cash.

A legal payout could further dent the stock, which has halved in price since hitting a pandemic peak of £1.22 in March.

Pass the popcorn.

Music streaming companies under scrutiny 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s recent report into streaming sent tremors through the music industry, arguing artists must be given a legal right to a fairer share of revenues.

Westminster whispers suggest the Government’s response is due imminently, and could recommend a full investigation into the market by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The watchdog already has its eyes on the industry, after last week raising concerns over Sony’s £312million deal to buy Nick Cave’s label, AWAL.

A CMA probe would be closely watched by investors across the trade, from Warner to rights specialist Hipgnosis, whose adviser and Chic frontman Nile Rodgers gave evidence to the committee.

FirstGroup AGM

Tomorrow’s annual investor meeting at transport operator FirstGroup takes places in a revamped 18th Century brewery in the City, and departing boss Matthew Gregory could do with a drink.

He’ll bow out after a feisty campaign from the group’s largest shareholder, New York’s Coast Capital.

Will Coast fancy a parting shot? Chairman David Martin will take the wheel as the hunt for a successor begins.

Blue Prism 

The two US private equity bidders circling automation software specialist Blue Prism have until the end of the month to lodge a firm bid.

Rory Bateman, who runs Schroders British Opportunities Trust, reckons there’s a ‘deal there to be done’ for the £1billion firm.

Bateman holds the stock in the trust, which has seen nifty growth since last year’s launch through investments in National Express, Ascential and a string of private assets.

He adds: ‘Blue Prism is a high-quality business and the valuation is extremely attractive compared to US and Dutch competitors. Its shareholders are likely to be constructive around a deal. A new owner needs to make up for missed investment opportunities in their own technology.’

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