Adam Crozier, the former ITV chief executive, is being lined up to become chairman of the Vue cinema chain as it examines plans for a blockbuster sale or stock market flotation.
Sky News has learnt that Vue, which is controlled by the Canadian pension funds Omers and Aimco, has approached Mr Crozier about the role.
Sources close to Vue and its owner said the discussions were likely to result in Mr Crozier being appointed in the coming weeks, although they cautioned that no deal had yet been agreed.
If he does agree to join, Mr Crozier’s transition from the small to big screen would put Vue within sight of a transaction expected to value it at more than £1.5bn.
The former ITV boss, who stepped down last month, will be replaced there by the easyJet boss Dame Carolyn McCall, it was confirmed this week.
Mr Crozier, who is due to become the senior independent director at Costa Coffee-owner Whitbread in September, is expected to build a portfolio of non-executive chairmanships over the coming months.
His CV also includes stints as chief executive of the Football Association and Royal Mail.
Image: Adam Crozier has previously led ITV, the Football Association and Royal Mail
A source close to Vue said his combination of public company experience and strong track record at delivering value to shareholders would leave the cinema operator well-placed to pursue a public listing.
Tim Richards, the chain’s founder and chief executive, has talked in recent weeks about the prospect of a sale or other exit for Omers, which took control of Vue in 2013.
“We are truly the last port of call if an international operator wants to come into Europe,” he told The Times last week.
“There’s a huge amount of interest from all corners.
“There are international distributors in North America, Korea, Japan, Mexico and Australia: these are groups that we know and we would want to work with.”
Vue now ranks as the sixth-biggest cinema group in the world, operating well over 200 sites in countries including the UK, Germany, Poland and Taiwan.
Its big rival in Britain, Odeon, was sold last year to the American group AMC, which in turn is backed by the Chinese company Dalian Wanda.
The industry is hoping for a blockbuster summer, with films now on release such as Spiderman: Homecoming and others due to hit screens soon including Blade Runner 2049.
Announcing financial results in March for the year ended November 2016, Mr Richards said it had “delivered another consistent performance for the year, benefitting from investment across our digital and physical estate”.
Rothschild, the investment bank, is expected to act as the independent adviser to Vue as it explores its options.
A Vue spokeswoman declined to comment on its talks with Mr Crozier, who could not be reached for comment.
Source: SKY News