Entertainment group swoop
Dungeon and Tussauds acquired by Legoland owner
Dungeon now part of Legoland
Merlin Entertainments, owner of Madame Tussauds and the Edinburgh Dungeon, has been acquired in a £5.9 billion deal led by the family owners of Lego and private equity firm Blackstone.
The group already had a 30% stake in Merlin after the company bought Legoland, but has now moved to take control. Merlin’s other attractions include Blackpool Tower and Alton Towers theme park.
Its board had rejected a number of previous takeover proposals before accepting the one from Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego’s Danish founding family, Blackstone and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
Merlin floated on the London Stock Exchange only six years ago, at an initial price of 315p per share. The new deal values the company at 455p per share.
Kirkbi chief executive Søren Thorup Sørensen said: “As the long-term owner of the Lego brand and as a strategic shareholder in Merlin since 2005, we have great pride and passion for this amazing company, its management team and its employees.
“With a shared understanding of the business and its culture, we believe that this group of investors has the unique collective resources necessary to equip Merlin, including the Legoland Parks and Legoland Discovery Centres, for their next phase of growth.
“We are committed to ensuring Legoland and the other activities in Merlin reach their full potential, which we believe is best pursued under private ownership, in order to deliver fantastic experiences to visitors of all ages around the world.”