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Merlin enters stock market with £3.2bn valuation


Merlin Entertainments has been priced near the top end of trading expectations – at £3.2bn (US$5.1bn, €3.8bn) – as the attractions company made its debut on the London Stock Exchange.

Private equity owners Blackstone and CVC both sold a portion of their shares, as did Danish group Kirkbi, which also owns the Lego and Legoland trademarks, as well as having a 75 per cent in the Lego Group.

The offering of 30 per cent of Merlin’s shares raised an initial £957m (US$1.5bn, €1.1bn) with trading starting at 315p (US503¢, €3.75). The share price shot up 6 per cent in conditional dealings.

It has been reported that retail investors picked up 12.5 per cent of the shares, while unconditional dealings are understood to be beginning on Wednesday.

Shareholders in the business will also be able to receive a 30 per cent discount on either two adult Merlin annual passes, or one Merlin annual pass to use for a family.

Kirkbi has retained a significant holding in the business, with its stake standing just under 30 per cent, while Blackstone held 22.6 per cent and CVC 13.1 per cent when trading started.

Last year Merlin created revenues of more than £1bn (US$1.59bn, €1.19bn), with the company operating 99 attractions in 22 different countries, which saw 54 million visitors in 2012 alone.


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