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Watch: Lego's parent company buys Merlin Entertainments for €6.6 billion

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By Sinead Barry  with Reuters
Watch: Lego's parent company buys Merlin Entertainments for €6.6 billion

Blackstone, the parent company of the internationally acclaimed toy manufacturer Lego has acquired Merlin Entertainments, owner of Madame Tussaud's, for €6.6 billion.

As Merlin Entertainments will now merge into Blackstone, the former will no longer be available on the stock market. In doing so, the two companies have made one of Europe's largest private equity deals (deals that are not traded publicly) for years.

Merlin Entertainments said on Friday that the move would give the company more possibilities for "significant long-term investment" as well as delivering on growth plans.

Blackstone, the founding family and private equity firm of Lego, is currently undergoing expansion in China where it plans to more than double its number of shops this year. By increasing its shop number to 140, the Danish company will have achieved its most rapid expansion in any market.

Merlin is also looking to China for investment, with three Madame Tussauds operating in the country. In January, the company announced that it was in the advanced stages of talks regarding numerous potential sites for Legoland Parks in the country.

Through its investments in China and elsewhere, Lego is attempting to stabilize its sales. The plastic-brick manufacturer is currently battling with a market that is dominated by digital entertainment products. For the first time in a decade, Lego saw a drop in its sales in 2017.

Merlin Entertainments is currently the second largest operator of visitor attractions after Disney. Some of the brands they operate include Alton Towers, the London Eye and Thorpe Park. Across 120 attractions, spanning 25 countries, Merlin saw 67 million people visit its sites last year.