Exhibition industry watchers wondered whether Regal still had an appetite for acquisitions in November, when it announced a $155M special dividend. But today’s deal, following Regal’s $250M bond offering in January, should put that question to rest. Hollywood Theaters, which has 43 venues with 513 screens, had been looking for help before June, when $157M of its bonds are due. The companies say that Regal’s $191M cash payment will cover that. The No. 1 exhibition chain also picks up $47M in lease obligations. Investors seem pleased by the deal, which increases Regal’s screen count by 7.5%: Its shares are up about 2% in early trading. Even with the outlay, “Regal is well-positioned to once again generate results above expectations in 2013 driven by its leading industry position on a robust film slate (with higher 3D penetration) along with a well-capitalized balance sheet to take advantage of additional M&A opportunities,” B. Riley Caris’ Eric Wold says. Here’s today’s release:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC), a leading motion picture exhibitor owning and operating the largest theatre circuit in the United States, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Hollywood Theaters. The purchase price will consist of $191 million in cash, approximately $47 million of assumed lease obligations, comprised of capital leases and financing obligations, and certain working capital. The cash portion of the purchase price includes repayment of approximately $157 million of the sellers’ debt and is subject to customary post-closing adjustments.

The proposed acquisition would add a total of 43 theatres with 513 screens to Regal’s portfolio at a pre-synergy multiple of approximately 5.9 times cash flow and includes theatres in 16 states and 3 U.S. territories. The consummation of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions.

“We expect the acquisition of Hollywood Theaters to be accretive to cash flows and earnings and are pleased to announce an agreement to purchase these high quality assets,” stated Amy Miles, CEO of Regal Entertainment Group. “Accretive acquisitions are a key component of our overall business strategy and we look forward to a successful closing and integration of the Hollywood Theater assets during the second quarter,” Miles continued.