Legoland operator plans float with 30 per cent ticket discounts for shareholders

UK theme park operator, Merlin entertainments has announced plans for an initial public offering. The company will apply for admission of its shares to the premium segment of UK Listing Authority and to trade on the market of the London Stock Exchange.

Merlin operates 99 attractions including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legoland. In 2012 the Merlin attractions drew 54m visitors and generated revenue of over £1bn, coming only second to Walt Disney as the world's largest theme park operator.

Revenues for 2013 so far are 11 per cent ahead of those in 2012. Some analysts estimate the firm could be worth as much as £3bn.

The proceeds from the primary offering of £200m will be used to reduce the company's net debt. The minimum application size for the intermediaries offer will be £1000. For those willing to take up the offer, Merlin is offering an enticing 30 per cent discount on two adult Merlin annual passes or one family annual pass.

Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin, said of the offering:

The IPO will provide Merlin with the platform for our next stage of development and allow us to plan for the longer term. As such we are very excited about this next chapter of our story, and look forward to creating value for our shareholders and more magic for our customers.

The operator has had a successful strategy since its formation in 1999 with high growth in volume of visitors and expanding attractions. A strong international presence, operating in 22 countries and strong brands have helped the company grow continuously since its formation. Customer satisfaction levels are at an impressive 90 per cent or greater.

The company will be encouraged that new Legoland ventures in California and Malaysia have both performed strongly in their first year. Merlin is now considering expanding Legoland venues to Japan, China and South Korea.