News in brief

Regal Cinemas owner files for bankruptcy

Cineworld Group, the world’s second-largest movie theater operator and owner of Regal Cinemas, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors amid a severe box office downturn.

The London-based business said Wednesday that the company and its subsidiaries had started legal proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Regal has theaters in Little Rock.

During its restructuring, the company said it expected to operate its business as usual with vendors, suppliers and employees being paid, the group said in a statement. Cineworld signaled it was exploring options to contend with its substantial debt load. The group said in a statement that it had entered into the Chapter 11 proceedings with about $1.94 billion in new financing from existing lenders to ensure its operations continue during the reorganization.

Regal Cinemas was founded in 1989 in Knoxville, Tenn., and rode a wave of megaplex and multiplex construction in the 1990s.

— Los Angeles Times (TNS)

USDA marks $400M for business centers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating $400 million for a program designed to strengthen and enhance food systems across the country.

Funding will go toward providing local and regional food systems coordination, technical assistance and creating what the USDA calls Regional Food Business Centers.

The business centers will serve communities with high need and limited resources by helping farmers, ranchers and other food businesses gain access to new markets and navigate local, state and federal resources. They will also assist small and mid-sized agricultural producers, and help build a more diverse and competitive food system, a USDA news release said.

Organizations across the country may apply to develop a regional food business center. Applicants must define the regions covered by the proposed center, and specify high needs priority areas within a region.

Applications must be submitted electronically at by 1o:59 p.m. on Nov. 22. For more information, visit or email

 — Cristina LaRue

Index jumps 13.59 to close at 803.98

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Wednesday at 803.98, up 13.59.

“Equities rallied sharply led by the utilities and consumer discretionary sectors despite cautious commentary from Federal Reserve officials as a drop in bond yields fueled investor sentiment,” said Leon Lants, managing director at Stephens Inc.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.