CVC Signs Merlin Entertainments Deal

(Reuters) – Private equity firm CVC said it has bought a 28 percent stake in Merlin Entertainments in a deal that values the owner of the London Eye and amusement parks operator at 2.25 billion pounds ($3.37 billion).

Under Thursday’s deal, which values CVC’s stake at 630 million pounds, rival buyout firm Blackstone (BX.N) will reduce its stake in the world’s second largest theme park operator behind Disney (DIS.N) to 34 percent from 52 percent while Dubai International Capital has fully sold its stake. [ID:nLDE65K0NR]

Kirkbi, the investment vehicle for the family behind the Lego empire, maintains its stake in the business at 36 percent, with management holding the remaining shares.

Merlin had been considering an initial public share offer earlier in the year but plans never got off the grounds because of market jitters.

Merlin is in advanced discussions about extending the maturities on its existing debt facitlities, the company said, but it does not plan to increase its overall leverage and the deal with CVC is not subject to lender consent. ($1=.6677 pounds)

(Reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Greg Mahlich)