In December 1998, Nick Varney and the senior management team of Vardon Attractions completed a management buyout of the company to form Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd. Incorporated in 2004, Merlin Entertainments is majority owned by private equity company Blackstone Group.
In March 2007, Merlin Entertainments agreed to buy The Tussauds Group for £1 billion. Merlin Entertainments and Tussauds together attracted 30 million visitors during 2006 and employ more than 13,000 staff. After the acquisition, Dubai International Capital will hold 20% of Merlin Entertainment.
The merger with Tussauds was completed on 22 May 2007. The Tussauds Group as a separate entity has ceased to exist, with control of its attractions, including Madame Tussauds, The London Eye, Alton Towers and Thorpe Park passing to Merlin.
On 17 July 2007, Merlin sold the freeholds of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussauds to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury. Although the attractions are owned by Leslau, they continue to be operated by Merlin, leasing each back on a renewable 35-year lease. Chessington World of Adventures (the fifth Tussaud's attraction) was not included in the deal. Sources of finance and funding
Distribution of profits
- A significant amount of profit is re-invested back into the group. Merlin are keen to expand their businesses (five new businesses per year) and have acquired rivals such as Tussauds in recent years. - In 2007 the managers at Merlin recommended that no dividends be paid to shareholders although this may change in the future.
- The company is run by a board of directors led by chairman and chief executive Nick Varney. There are number of other directors including roles such as Group Development Director and Brand Development director. These directors...