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Cineworld's deputy CEO regrets it wasn't a meme stock like AMC as the chain files for bankruptcy: 'We were never so lucky!'

Markets Insider 9/8/2022 ztayeb@businessinsider.com (Zahra Tayeb)
Cineworld filed for bankruptcy over a $5 billion debt. Amanda Krause/Insider © Amanda Krause/Insider Cineworld filed for bankruptcy over a $5 billion debt. Amanda Krause/Insider
  • Cineworld's deputy CEO wished the movie chain had become a meme stock like rival AMC.
  • The UK movie chain, which owns Regal Cinemas in the US, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday.
  • The chain, carrying $5 billion in debt, would have welcomed meme-stock liquidity, the executive said.

Cineworld was unlucky not to become a meme stock like its rival AMC Entertainment, according to a top executive at the world's second-biggest movie chain operator.

The UK-based company, which owns Regal Cinemas in the US, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday after becoming weighed down with $5 billion in debt. 

Like other cinema operators, Cineworld has been hit by enforced closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer top-flight theatrical releases, and more competition from streaming services.

But it has struggled to shore up its finances, unlike AMC, which has managed to raise over $2 billion via sales of new "APE" preferred stock to its army of retail investors, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Cineworld's deputy chief executive, Israel Greidinger, sounded regretful about his company's lack of a similar "meme stock" fanbase in a declaration accompanying the bankruptcy protection filing.

"While Cineworld would, of course, have welcomed the liquidity of becoming a 'meme stock' like AMC, we were never so lucky!" he said.

The chain confirmed in August that it was considering filing for Chapter 11 protection, which enables companies to continue operations while they work out a plan to pay back creditors. In its filing Wednesday, it said it was looking at restructuring its UK, US and Jersey business, and to cut debt. 

"The pandemic was an incredibly difficult time for our business, with the enforced closure of cinemas and huge disruption to film schedules that has led us to this point," Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said in the filing. 

The meme stock movement sees non-professional investors talk up their favorite stocks in online forums like Reddit's r/wallstreetbets. The practice gained mainstream popularity about 18 months ago as retail investors successfully sent shares of GameStop (GME) to astronomical levels.

The movement lost momentum as stocks sold off in the first half of 2022, but powered up again in early August after Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY)'s stock caught fire. Much of that revival has since disappeared. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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