The Tussauds Group is being sold to Merlin Entertaiment, the owner of Legoland, for £1bn. The deal will create the second-largest attraction operator owner after Disney.
The enlarged group will be run by Merlin Chief executive Nick Varney and Tussauds’ chief executive Peter Phillipson will become a non-executive director.
Merlin Entertainments, which is majority-owned by private equity company Blackstone Capital Group, will have the largest stake in the merged group and Tussaud’s owner Dubai International Capital (DIC) will receive £1.03bn in cash and a 20% stake in the combined business. DIC bought Tussauds for £800m in 2005.
Varney says of the deal: “The combination of the Merlin and Tussauds brands, people and operating expertise will create an exciting and world-beating global entertainment company.”
He adds that the expanded group will have “strong development potential” and aims to be the world leader in “location-based, branded, family entertainment”. It will also focus on accelerating current expansion plans for all brands, particularly in North America.
The merged group will have 50 attractions across 12 companies and over 30m visitors annually.