Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has acquired a 28 percent stake in theme park operator Merlin Entertainments for £2.25bn.
The deals sees private equity firm Blackstone reduce its stake and Dubai International Capital (DIC) dispose of its remaining shares.
Merlin is now owned 36 percent by family-owned investment company KIRKBI, 34 percent by Blackstone and 28 percent by CVC. Its management hold the remaining shares, with the owners ‘setting aside a further significant stake’ for a staff incentive plan.
Nick Varney, Merlin chief executive, said: “We are delighted that CVC has decided to invest in Merlin Entertainments as we continue to pursue our exciting plans to expand this unique business.”
“This deal recognises the inherent value and potential of the business and will provide us with the ongoing investment necessary to help us achieve our ambitions.”
“Merlin has a long and consistent record of strong growth in both revenues and profits, industry leading margins and high returns on invested capital.”
“We have successfully followed a clear and proven strategy to build a high-growth international family entertainment business, founded on strong brands and a portfolio of attractions balanced by geographies, products and demographics.”
Merlin currently operates 62 attractions, six hotels and two holiday villages in 13 countries, attracting 38.5m visitors a year.
Its portfolio includes Sea Life, Madame Tussauds, Legland, The London Eye, Dungeons, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Underwater Adventures and Earth Explorer.
Blackstone acquired Merlin in May 2005 and subsequently merged it with the Tussauds Group, which it bought from DIC for just over £1bn in 2007.