Danish Lego parent company snaps up Madame Tussauds

Britain's Merlin Entertainments, owner of Madame Tussauds waxworks and the London Eye Ferris wheel, was snapped up Friday by Lego's Danish parent Kirkbi for £5.9 billion (6.6 billion euros) including debt.

Danish Lego parent company snaps up Madame Tussauds
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix

Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego's Danish founding family, said in a statement that it will purchase the entertainment and theme park company in a consortium alongside US private equity group Blackstone and Canadian pension fund CPPIB. The equity value of the deal is £5.0 billion.

Kirkbi already owns almost 30 percent of Merlin following the sale of Legoland Parks to the London-listed group in 2005.

“Merlin is a global leader in location based, family entertainment, with a unique portfolio of brands and attractions spanning 25 countries and four continents, and with a proven strategy that has delivered over many years,” said Merlin chairman John Sunderland.

He added: “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.

“We are therefore unanimously recommending it to our shareholders.”

Merlin owns popular UK theme parks Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventure, Gardaland in Italy and Heide Park in Germany.

Kirkbi chief executive Søren Thorup Sørensen said the acquisition would enable the combined group to enter a new growth phase.

“With a shared understanding of the business and its culture, we believe that this group of investors has the unique collective resources necessary to equip Merlin … for their next phase of growth.

“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,” he said.

Kirkbi, which is backed by Denmark's billionaire Kristiansen family, owns a controlling 75-percent stake in iconic toy giant Lego.

“As the long-term owner of the Lego brand and as a strategic shareholder in Merlin since 2005, we have great pride and passion for this amazing company, its management team and its employees,” added Sørensen on Friday.

READ ALSO: Danish researchers may have found a new, green version of Lego

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Denmark’s toy giant Lego offers staff bonus after bumper year

Danish toymaker Lego, the world's largest toymaker, Denmark's Lego, said on Tuesday it will offer its 20,000 employees three extra days of holiday and a special bonus after a year of bumper revenues.

Lego is rewarding staff with a Christmas bonus and extra holiday after a strong 2022.
Lego is rewarding staff with a Christmas bonus and extra holiday after a strong 2022. File photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Already popular globally, Lego has seen demand for its signature plastic bricks soar during the pandemic alongside its rapid expansion in China.

“The owner family wishes to… thank all colleagues with an extra three days off at the end of 2021,” the company said in a statement.

The unlisted family group reported a net profit of more than 6.3 billion Danish kroner (847 million euros) for the first half of 2021.

Revenues shot up 46 percent to 23 billion kroner in the same period.

It had been “an extraordinary year for the Lego Group and our colleagues have worked incredibly hard,” said the statement, which added that an unspecified special bonus would be paid to staff in April 2022.

Lego, a contraction of the Danish for “play well” (leg godt), was founded in 1932 by Kirk Kristiansen, whose family still controls the group which employs about 20,400 people in 40 countries.

READ ALSO: Lego profits tower to new heights as stores reopen