Merlin Entertainments to list on London Stock Exchange
Among theme-park operators in the world, Merlin is the second-biggest (after Disney) and it owns some of the most interesting venues: Madame Tussauds, the London Eye Ferris wheel, the Sea Life centres as well as Legoland. It is a serious business and it just announced it will list on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in mid-2010. This will probably bring huge profits to the private equity firm that controls it, Blackstone Group, and its high flying CEO Stephen A Schwarzman. The move is a sign of improved conditions and the increased inflow of money into global markets. Blackstone also has its fingers in Universal Studios Orlando park, and recently acquired Anheuser Busch InBev’s theme parks, including Sea World and Busch Gardens, for as much as $2.7 billion. The other big players, like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the Fortress Investment Group and Cerberus Capital Management are also likely to test the waters some time in 2010, although Cerberus will for a while have to lick its wounds after losing its fight with President Obama over Chrysler’s bankruptcy. Expect plenty of activity soon.