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Blackstone, JP Morgan in $1 billion cinema deal: report

(Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP and JPMorgan Chase & Co will look to raise over $1 billion to help fund the conversion of 20,000 U.S. cinema screens to digital technology, in a deal due to be announced later on Wednesday, the Financial Times reported.

Blackstone and JP Morgan are arranging the financing for a consortium made up of the three largest U.S. cinema chains, which has done a deal with five Hollywood studios, the paper said, citing a person familiar with the situation.

Walt Disney Co, Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, News Corp’s Twentieth Century Fox and General Electric Co’s Universal Pictures are expected to announce the long-sought digital cinema deal, sources told Reuters last week.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp joined the other studios in signing up to the consortium’s plan, the FT said.

The studios have been engaged in years-long talks with the Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) -- formed by Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Holdings Inc and AMC Entertainment Inc, who operate 14,000 screens -- to reach a deal to help finance the theater upgrades.

JP Morgan and Blackstone were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; editing by Simon Jessop

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