The billionaire Lego family has struck a $6.1 billion deal with Blackstone to buy the owner of Legoland

  • The Danish billionaire family behind the Lego empire has struck a deal to acquire Legoland operator Merlin Entertainments for £4.8 billion ($US6.1 billion).
  • The Kirk Kristiansen family is Merlin’s largest shareholder with a 30% stake, and jointly controlled the company with Blackstone for eight years before its public listing in 2013.
  • The family partnered with Blackstone and Canadian pension fund CPPIB to make the offer.
  • Watch Merlin Entertainments trade live.

The Danish billionaire family behind the Lego empire has struck a deal to acquire Legoland operator Merlin Entertainments for £4.8 billion ($US6.1 billion).

The Kirk Kristiansen family, through its Kirkbi investment vehicle, was already Merlin’s largest shareholder with a 30% stake. It partnered with private-equity giant Blackstone and Canadian pension fund CPPIB to make the offer. The Danish family and Blackstone are taking back the reins, as they jointly controlled Merlin for eight years before its public listing in 2013.

The offer price of 455 pence represents a 31% premium to Merlin’s average stock price for the six months before May 22, when its second-largest shareholder, ValueAct Capital, penned an open letter arguing the company should be taken private to allow it to ramp up investment and pay its executives more. News of the offer – which Merlin’s board has recommended to shareholders – sent its shares up 14% to 450 pence, just below the offer price.

Merlin is the world’s second largest attractions company after Disney. It operates more than 120 of them including Madame Tussauds, the Coca-Cola London Eye, the London Dungeon, theme parks such as Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, and Peppa Pig World of Play. It attracted 67 million visitors in 2018, generating £1.7 billion in constant-currency revenue and £327 million in underlying operating profits.

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