(Bloomberg) -- Cineworld Group Plc creditors have held talks about breaking up the bankrupt theater chain and selling its eastern European operations, according to people familiar with the matter.

The largest senior creditors of the London-based company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas in September to cut a near $9 billion pile of debt and leases, are weighing the sale of Cinema City, Yes Planet and Rav-Chen, an Israeli operation, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.

Bids around the $1 billion mark are more likely to clear the creditor group’s threshold, two of the people said, though valuations could start at about $600 million to $700 million given the earnings, one said. No formal process has started and there’s no certainty a sale will happen, the people added.

Cineworld declined to comment.

Several stages of the company’s bankruptcy remain, but control of Cineworld is likely to pass to its biggest senior secured lenders. The eastern European assets include about 112 of Cineworld’s roughly 751 cinemas, according to the company’s website, with operations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Israel.

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The Regal division in the US, acquired in 2018 for $3.6 billion, makes up the bulk of Cineworld, with 511 locations.

Covid-19 shuttered theaters worldwide and throttled movie production, and Cineworld has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. A sale would divest the Israeli and Polish assets at the heart of the founding Greidinger family’s empire. 

In 2019, before the pandemic, the company’s Rest of the World segment -- the group that’s being considered for sale -- posted operating earnings of $124 million. It registered a loss of $23 million on that basis last year and a loss of $172 million in 2020.

--With assistance from Sabah Meddings.

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