Merlin gets set for stock market rollercoaster

Michael Bow
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ALTON Towers owner Merlin Entertainments is closing in on plans to launch its long-awaited stock market debut after the roaring success of the Royal Mail float and temporary fixing of the US debt ceiling cleared its path to a listing.

Merlin, which is co-owned by private equity titans Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners, is due to unveil a formal intention to float in London before the end of the month amid a rush by private firms to capitalise on buoyant stock markets.

The success of Royal Mail’s initial public offering – shares have surged close to 50 per cent in value from their float price – and a temporary thawing in relations in Washington to avert a US debt breach have given added impetus to a host of firms looking to float.

Sofa chain DFS, online househunting site Zoopla, takeaway site Just Eat, cinema Everyman, and foreign exchange shop Travelex are just some of the firms lining up behind Merlin with plans to float.

Merlin is expected to be valued at £4bn.