The Blackstone Group have agreed to buy the Tussauds Group, owner of London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks museum and Alton Towers Resort, for 1 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to create the world’s second-biggest operator of tourist attractions after the Walt Disney Company.
Blackstone’s Merlin Entertainments Group will acquire Tussauds from Dubai International Capital LLC, a government- backed buyout firm that acquired the waxworks two years ago, the company said in a statement today. Dubai will receive a 20 percent stake in the combined business.
The takeover combines Blackstone’s London Dungeon and Legoland theme parks with Tussauds’ waxworks, London Eye and various Theme Parks to create the world’s biggest theme park operator by visitor numbers after Walt Disney Co., owner of Disneyland. Tussauds draws 14 million visitors a year to its sites. Together the two visitor attraction operators have a presence in 12 countries and welcome over 30m visitors annually to their 50 attractions.
Merlin’s chief executive Nick Varney will head the enlarged group with Tussauds’ chief executive Peter Phillipson as non-executive chairman.
Mr Varney said: “The combination of the Merlin and Tussauds brands, people, and operating expertise will create an exciting and world-beating global entertainment company.”