Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds bought out by Lego in £5.9billion deal

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Merlin today annouced the green light for the takeover from Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego’s founding family, Blackstone and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

The deal comes after Merlin, which also owns Legoland and Thorpe Park, said it had rejected a number of previous takeover proposals.

Kirkbi, which is backed by the billionaire Kiristiansen family, currently owns an almost-30 percent stake in the entertainment and theme park business.

Following the approval, the company is now valued at 455p per share, representing a 15 percent premium on the FTSE 100 firm’s 395p per share value at the end of trading on Thursday.

Merlin floated on the London Stock Exchange only six years ago, at an initial price of 315p per share.

The deal gives the group a total enterprise value of £5.9 billion.

Chairman Sir John Sunderland said: “Merlin is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment, with a unique portfolio of brands and attractions spanning 25 countries and four continents, and with a proven strategy that has delivered over many years.

“The company has generated meaningful value since its IPO (Initial Public Offering), with significant growth in revenue, earnings and cash flow.

“Following an unsolicited approach by a consortium of investors, and after rejecting a number of their proposals, the Merlin independent directors believe this offer represents an opportunity for Merlin shareholders to realise value for their investment in cash at an attractive valuation.”

Soren Thorup Sorensen, chief executive of Kirkbi, 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.”

Fiona Orford-Williams, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said: “This deal makes a lot of sense for both parties.”

She continued: “Merlin will be able to undertake the investment projects needed to bring the attractions up to the standards that can deliver high-quality, exciting experiences for visitors in a longer-term payback scenario. Lego gets to diversify its attractions portfolio.”

The deal was unanimously recommended by company shareholders.

Shares in Merlin in jumped by 13.9 percent to 450p in early-morning trading.

The share price remained at this level at 11.17am BST.

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