Blackstone buys Legoland parks

Blackstone Group, the global private equity firm, announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Legoland Parks for €375m (US$457m). The vendor was Denmark’s LEGO Group, which is controlled by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.

The deal includes Legoland’s four family theme parks in England, Germany, California and Denmark – where the company also has a 176-room hotel.

The intention is to merge Legoland with Merlin Entertainments Group, the British operator of visitor attractions that Blackstone acquired in June. Blackstone and management will take a 70% share in the new Merlin Entertainments Group, while the LEGO Group will hold 30%. The new group will be led by Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, and CFO Andrew Carr.

With 12m visitors, the new Merlin Entertainments Group will be the second largest visitor attraction business in Europe with the second and third-largest attraction brands – Sea Life and Legoland.

Morgan Stanley advised the LEGO group on its sale of Legoland Parks.