Shareholders approved the US$7.5-billion sale of UK-based Merlin Entertainments to Motion Acquisition, a newly formed company created by the private holding and investment company Kirkbi (owned by The LEGO Group’s founding family) and funds advised by the US private equity firm Blackstone Group and the Canadian pension fund CPPIB. The deal is expected to close in Q4 and will once again make Merlin Entertainments a private company.
Blackstone acquired Merlin Entertainments in 2005, just before Merlin bought control of LEGOLAND in a deal that saw Kirkbi take a 30% stake in the company. Merlin Entertainments went public in 2013, and the company operates more than 120 attractions in 25 countries, including eight LEGOLAND theme parks, 20 LEGOLAND Discovery Center and 23 LEGO midways.
In August, LEGOLAND California announced The LEGO Movie World attraction would open in 2020. The new land will feature characters from The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and includes a number of rides and immersive experiences. Merlin Entertainments has also partnered with Entertainment One to launch Peppa Pig World of Play standalone indoor play attractions across the US and China.
This agreement comes as The LEGO Group continues its hot streak, reporting a 5% increase in global consumer sales for the first half of fiscal 2019. The Danish brickmaker also reported a 4% increase in revenue to the tune of US$2.17 billion. Moving forward the company will focus on expanding in China and India.