Merlin plumps for 315p price for new shares

David Hellier
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SHARES in the Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments will start trading today following a sales process that had to be brought forward because it was going so well.

Advisers to the float, which include Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Lazard, yesterday agreed a price for the new shares of 315p, valuing the firm at more than £3bn.

Merlin on Monday said it would be closing the offer early, having received enough orders for all the shares within a day of the sale launching.

Advisers were keen to bring the timetable forward once they realised there was sufficient demand. “You don’t want to be in the market longer than you need to,” said one adviser familiar with UK flotations.

UK advisers have recently been trying hard to reduce the traditional four-week timetable for new issues in line with the US which operates on a tighter schedule.

Between 10 and 15 per cent of the shares will be allocated to retail investors, with Barclays and Solid Solutions focusing on this aspect of the offer.

The two firms have worked on all of the recent major retail offerings, including Royal Mail, apart from eSure.

The private equity-backed Merlin operates the global waxworks museum franchise and dozens of other attractions in 22 countries.

Merlin has tried and failed to float in in the past few years and its success this time will be seen as further evidence of a return to confidence in the London’s new issues market.

Merlin is offering retail investors shareholder benefits.