CINEPLEX SELLS TORONTO HEAD OFFICE, AIMS TO PAY DEBT AMID COVID-19 CHALLENGES

The theatre chain says it will continue to lease back its Toronto office for up to a decade, but plans to consolidate its office space in the city.

A man makes his way down an escalator during the Cineplex Entertainment company's annual general meeting in Toronto on May 17, 2017. Cineplex says it's ready to start reopening select Ontario movie theatres on Friday.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Cineplex Inc. says it is selling its head office building in Toronto for $57 million as it looks for cash to pay down its credit facilities.

The theatre chain says it will continue to lease back its Toronto office for up to a decade, but plans to consolidate its office space in the city.

Cineplex has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and said last month that 91 per cent fewer moviegoers came to theatres this summer compared to summer 2019.

Chief executive Ellis Jacob says he has high hopes for next year’s movie slate, predicting that there will be pent-up demand for social activities after the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jacob says the $57 million gross proceeds from the sale of Toronto head office, combined with a recent agreement from Scotiabank, will provide $117 million to tide Cineplex over.

The company says that once the sale of the building closes in January, about half of the proceeds from both deals will go toward paying down existing credit facilities.

“We are confident in our response to COVID-19 and the actions we have taken to stabilize our financial position,” Jacob said in a statement.

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