Merlin targets £3bn flotation


Merlin Entertainment stock plans

The company behind attractions including the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and Alton Towers will be valued at between £2.8 billion and £3.3 billion when it joins the stock market next month.

Merlin Entertainments, which operates 99 attractions in 22 countries and had 54 million visitors in 2012, disclosed more details of the float, which will see up to 15% of shares on offer go to retail investors.

Private equity owners Blackstone and CVC are selling a chunk of their shares, although Kirkbi, the Danish family-owned investment company which owns the Lego and Legoland trademarks and 75% of the Lego Group, will retain a significant shareholding.

The valuation of Merlin is based on an expected price range for the shares of between 280p and 330p. The exact level will be disclosed when conditional dealings commence on November 12.
Merlin hopes to raise around £165 million from the initial sale of shares and following the deduction of fees and commission.

Retail investors will have until November 8 to apply for shares through intermediaries. The m inimum application size will be £1,000 and shareholders will be entitled to a 30% discount on either two adult Merlin Annual Passes or one family Merlin Annual Pass.

Merlin is the latest high-profile firm to target a flotation on the London market, following recent debuts by Royal Mail and estate agency chain Foxtons.

The company, formed in 1999, made a previous attempt to float the business in 2010 but was thwarted by market conditions.

It generated revenues of more than £1 billion last year and is Europe's leading visitor attraction operator and the second largest globally after Walt Disney. Other sites include Legoland Parks, Chessington World of Adventures and Warwick Castle.