The owners of Legoland and Madame Tussauds are to merge in a deal worth more than £1b, it was announced today.
The agreement between Merlin Entertainments, controlled by private equity firm Blackstone and Tussauds Group, owned by Dubai International Capital, will create world's second-largest operator of tourist attractions after Disney.
Merlin Entertainments will be the majority owner of the merged company, with DIC receiving £1.03b in cash and holding a 20% stake in the combined business.
As well as Madame Tussauds, the Tussauds Group owns the London Eye, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington and Warwick Castle.
Merlin Entertainments runs Legoland, London Dungeon, Sealife and Gardaland.
Together the two visitor attraction operators have a presence in 12 countries and welcome more than 30 million visitors annually to their 50 attractions.
Merlin's chief executive Nick Varney will head the enlarged group with Tussauds' chief executive Peter Phillipson as non-executive chairman.
Varney said: "The combination of the Merlin and Tussauds brands, people, and operating expertise will create an exciting and world-beating global entertainment company.
"Our ambition is to build on this to become the world leader in location-based, branded, family entertainment."
Sameer Al Ansari, executive chairman of Dubai International Capital, said: "As responsible long-term investors, we believe that this is an excellent deal for Tussauds."
By Daniel Thomas
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