London: Blackstone Group LP has agreed to buy Tussauds Group for £1 billion (about Rs8,600 crore), combining the operator of London’s Madame Tussauds’ waxworks museum with Legoland theme parks and the London Eye.
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 Regulatory News Service statement. Dubai will receive a 20% stake in the combined business.
The enlarged company will operate 50 sites from Alton Towers in the UK to Italy’s Gardaland theme parks, making it the world’s second-biggest operator of visitor attractions and theme parks after Walt Disney Co, the owner of Disneyland. “The combined group will be in an excellent position to continue the development of The London Eye and our theme parks, as well as accelerate the rollout of Madame Tussauds around the world,” Tussauds CEO PeterPhillipson said.
Tussauds traces its roots to 1802, when Madame Tussaud brought her waxwork collection to London, and draws more than 14 million visitors annually to its attractions, including models of celebrities David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Kylie Minogue among others. Based in Chessington, southern England, Tussauds also operates UK theme parks such as Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures.