Entertainment: Bids to come in for Emaar stake

Blackstone Group LP and CVC Capital Partners are among buyout firms weighing a bid for as much as a 40 percent stake in Emaar Properties PJSC’s entertainment division, according to people familiar with the matter, reports Bloomberg.

The whole business could be valued at as much as $2 billion, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. No final decisions have been made and the discussions may not result in a deal, the people said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the buyout firms had made a formal bid for the business.

Representatives for Blackstone and CVC declined to comment. A representative for Emaar didn’t have an immediate comment.

Emaar shares declined 1.5 percent at 1:02 p.m. in Dubai, giving the company a market value of about $14.2 billion. Dubai’s benchmark index was trading 0.4 percent lower.

Large, global private equity firms have been seeking to expand their reach in the region, and deals for businesses in the Middle East and Africa have risen 34 percent in the last 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Emaar, Dubai’s largest listed property developer with a market value of about $14.4 billion, operates the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink and movie-theater chain Reel Cinemas through its entertainment division.

Emaar had weighed selling a minority stake in Reel Cinemas, people familiar with the matter said earlier this year. The company said at the time that it had considered the idea earlier, but decided not to proceed and had no intention to start a sales process.