SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Hoyts Cinema Group Ltd. has hired an investment banker to handle the possible sale of its 965 screens in the United States, or any potential merger or acquisition.

The company is scheduled to release its half-year earnings next week, and a spokesman said until then it would not comment further on its retention of B.T. Wolfensohn, part of Bankers Trust, to handle the matter.

Hoyts operates 965 cinema screens at 120 U.S. sites, up from 634 screens at 93 sites three years ago.

``There has been a large amount of actual and rumored corporate activity in the U.S. cinema of late,'' Hoyts chief executive officer Peter Ivany said in a statement.

``Consequently, we thought it incumbent on us that we are fully cognizant of all opportunities available to us including acquisition, merger or sale of our U.S. businesses.

However, Ivany said the strategic review of operations may not result in any change to Hoyts' business.