Friday 28 June 2019 8:33 am

Legoland owner Merlin Entertainments secures £4.8bn takeover offer

Legoland and Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments today said it has secured a £4.8bn takeover offer led by the owners of Lego.

Merlin said it has reached an agreement on an offer of 455 pence per share tabled by Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of the Danish billionaire family behind Lego, and private equity firm Blackstone. The firm recommended the offer to shareholders.

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The bid marks a 37 per cent premium on Merlin’s closing price of 333p on 22 May, the day before the offer was made. Shares in Merlin jumped 14 per cent to 450p in early trading.

The deal comes after US activist investor Valueact urged the board of Merlin to take the company private.

“Following an unsolicited approach by a consortium of investors, and after rejecting a number of their proposals, the Merlin independent directors believe this offer represents an opportunity for Merlin shareholders to realise value for their investment in cash at an attractive valuation,” said chairman Sir John Sunderland.

Kirkbi, which already holds a stake of just under 30 per cent in Merlin, said the takeover would help the firm “realise its potential to grow”.

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Soren Thorup Sorensen, Kirkbi chief executive, said: “We are committed to ensuring Legoland and the other activities in Merlin reach their full potential, which we believe is best pursued under private ownership, in order to deliver fantastic experiences to visitors of all ages around the world.”

Merlin, which also owns Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and the London Eye, was advised on the deal by Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Citi.