January 24, 2007 / 1:05 PM / 12 years ago

Retailer Americanas buys Brazil Blockbuster stores

SAO PAULO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Lojas Americanas (LAME3.SA), one of Brazil’s leading retailers, said on Wednesday it agreed to buy the company that owns the franchising rights to Blockbuster Inc. BBI.N in the country for 186.2 million reais ($87.4 million).

The deal will give Americanas 99.99 percent of BWU Comercio e Entretenimento SA, which has held the franchising rights to Blockbuster in Brazil since 1995. BWU is currently owned by Unibanco Empreendimentos e Participacoes SA, a unit of local bank Unibanco UBB.NUBBR11.SA.

The transaction also gives Americanas, which is already a major retailer of DVDs and video games, exclusive rights to the Blockbuster brand in Brazil for 20 years, Americanas said in a statement to the local securities regulator.

U.S.-based Blockbuster, the world’s largest movie rental company, currently has 127 stores across Brazil, mostly in large urban areas.

The deal marks the second acquisition by Americanas in as many months. In late November the company said its Internet retail arm, Americanas.com, would team up with rival Submarino SUBA3.SA to create a new retailer called B2W, or Companhia Global de Varejo.

The Blockbuster deal is also the latest show of force by Brazilian billionaires Jorge Paulo Lemann, Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Telles, a group of former investment bankers who control Lojas Americanas.

The trio has been involved in a series of major mergers and acquisitions in Brazil, including the sale of local investment bank Banco Garantia to Credit Suisse CSGN.VX in 1998 and the takeover of Brazilian brewing giant AmBev AMBV4.SAABV.N by Belgium’s Interbrew in 2004, creating InBev INTB.BR.

($1 = 2.13 reais)

Additional reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr.

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