Sale of 30% of Merlin to see company valued at over £3bn

Merlin Entertainments, which owns visitor attraction venues including Legoland, the EDF Energy London Eye, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussauds, has readied itself for stock market flotation next month by pricing its equity at £3.34bn.

City analysts believe the sale of up to 30 per cent of the company via Initial Public Offering could see it qualify for the FTSE 100. The global offer price range sees the company valued in the same band as the Royal Mail.

Merlin Chief Executive Nicky Varney said: “We believe that Merlin Entertainments has bright prospects and the listing will provide us with the platform for our next stage of development.”

The share offer is likely to make the world’s second-biggest visitor attraction operator £200m. Merlin operates 99 attractions in 22 countries.

Up to 10 percent of existing shares will be sold by the group’s biggest shareholders: Kirkbi, the Danish family trust that controls the Lego brand, and Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firms.

There are expected to be windfalls for up to 2,000 employees with shares in the company, while up to 300 of the company’s top managers could be in line for a stake worth up to £250m.

The sale is to be run by Goldman Sachs and Barclays.

Merlin Non-Executive Chairman Sir John Sunderland, said he was impressed by the “significant growth” the company delivered as a private company, adding: “But there is more to come and I believe Merlin has a promising future as a publicly listed company.”

Merlin’s venues were visited by 54m people last year, business that generated revenues of over £1bn. Revenues up to 31 August this year were up over 11 per cent.

Merlin’s theme parks and entertainment attractions are increasingly tapping into events business and many have their own conference centres and facilities for private hire.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s Asia Pacific former Non-Executive Chairman Miguel Ko was one of a number of new appointments to the Merlin Board.

Merlin has plans to expand in the US and China next year and has been eyeing other sites in Dubai, Japan and South Korea.

Do you have news for CN? Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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