Merlin looks to 're-float'
by Annie Byrne
Merlin Entertainments Group, which markets major event space at such venues as Alton Towers, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, is reportedly looking again at floating on a stock exchange. Chief executive Nick Varney has said that the group could move quickly to a float if a window of opportunity opened up. Last month, EN reported that Merlin’s owner, private equity group Blackstone, pulled its £2bn stock market flotation via an initial public offering (IPO) just 24 hours after it also pulled the flotation of Travelport, an American travel business.Varney told The Times newspaper, 10 March: “An IPO remains a very strong option for us, though we won’t go at any price because we don’t need to refinance until 2012”. We’ve reported nine years of double-digit growth, we’ve got strong growth prospects, we’re not over-levered, we’re not squeezing every last morsel out of the cost base, we’re asset-backed and cash-generative.“Merlin is exactly the sort of business institutions should be backing,” he added. In related news, Merlin has launched its ‘After Dark’ themed dining experience for corporate functions, conferences and networking events at the London Dungeon. London Dungeon can cater for events up to 220 delegates and After Dark includes a tour through the Dungeon, where guests can experience the darkest moments in London’s history before a three-course meal hosted by ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Mrs Lovett’.Merlin is the world’s second largest attraction owner behind Disney.