Jun 28, 2019

Lego family and Blackstone assemble £6bn bid for Merlin

Leisure group Merlin Entertainments, best known for Legoland Resorts and Madame Tussauds wax museums, is set to be acquired in a £6bn deal by the Danish billionaire family that controls toymaker Lego, private equity group Blackstone and a Canadian pension fund. One of these people said the deal is likely to value Merlin's shares at around 460p, a premium of more than 18 per cent to its closing price of 395p on Thursday. At that level, the offer will value Merlin shares at more than £4.7bn. The company has net debt of roughly £1.2bn, giving it an enterprise value of close to £6bn. The transaction will see Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego's founding family, which owns close to 30 per cent of Merlin shares, team up with Blackstone and Canadian pension fund CPPIB. Among its holdings, Kirkbi owns a 75 per cent stake in Lego. Merlin, Kirkbi and Blackstone did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an open letter to the chairman of Merlin, ValueAct said that "Private ownership is simply better placed than current public shareholders to underwrite the investments Merlin must make".

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