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CVC aims to acquire stake in Merlin

Private equity firm looks to buy 30 per cent stake in theme park operator

21 June 2010

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners is negotiating the acquisition of a 30 per cent stake in Merlin Entertainments.

CVC would purchase the minority share from the theme park operator's existing shareholders, including U.S. private equity group Blackstone and Danish company Kirkbi A/S, who own three quarters of the Lego Group.

The proposed deal would result in CVC, Blackstone and KIRKBI A/S all holding a 30 per cent share, with Merlin's managers owning the remainder, reports The Financial Times.

It would also end Merlin's hopes of floating the firm on the London Stock Exchange for at least another two years, following its failed attempt to do so four months ago.

CVC's investment would value Merlin at around £2.5 billion including debt, while it could also refinance the business to provide more funding for expansion.

Merlin, the firm behind the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and Legoland, has become the second-biggest theme park operator in the world behind Disney.

Over the past nine years, it has registered a continued growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to the figure of £238.6 million last year.

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