Merlin Entertainments, primarily known as the operator of the Legoland Resorts and wax museum Madame Tussauds, is about to change hands. Blackstone and a Canadian pension fund are working together with Kirkbi, the investment fund of the Danish Lego family, on a deal.
The parties are willing to pay 4.8 billion pounds (5.4 billion euros) for Merlin, which also runs the Alton Towers amusement park, Peppa Pig World of Play and the British Ferris wheel London Eye. That would mean a hefty premium on the last closing price of the share.
Investors have been pushing for Merlin for a while now for a sale and departure from the stock exchange, because the company is better off in private hands. The idea is that Merlin should invest in new hotels and Legoland parks, which is difficult as a public company. Takeover speculation has recently been driving the course.
Merlin is also still struggling with the aftermath of a previous million-dollar fine following an accident in 2015 with an attraction in Alton Towers where 16 people were injured. In addition, the British ‘choice to leave the EU did not benefit the company’s growth potential.