AMC Entertainment

( AEN) and rival movie theater chain Lowes Cineplex Entertainment, a unit of

Onex Corp.

(ONEXF)

, are in preliminary discussion about a business combination, the companies said Wednesday.

Recently, AMC shares were up 41 cents, or almost 3%, to $14.46. The company operates 232 movie theatres in the U.S. and eight other countries.

In the quarter ended Oct. 2, the Kansas City, Mo.-based company lost $4.1 million, or 11 cents a share, on revenue of $438 million, compared with a loss of $8 million, or 22 cents a share, on sales of $451 million a year ago.

Odeon's parent Onex is one of Canada's largest conglomerates with $23 billion in revenue last year. Its entertainment group, which includes the Odeon chain, operates 260 theaters in the U.S, Canada and several other countries. Third quarter operating earnings rose almost 19% to $36 million on revenue of $325 million.

Neither company had further comment on the talks in their news releases.