Report: CVC Capital Nears Deal for Merlin Stake

(Reuters) – Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners is close to agreeing a deal to buy a 30 percent stake in theme park operator Merlin Entertainments, the Financial Times reported in its Monday edition.

CVC would buy the minority stake from Merlin’s existing shareholders, which include U.S private equity group Blackstone (BX.N), KIRKBI A/S, a private Danish holding company that owns three quarters of the LEGO Group, and Dubai International Capital [DUBAHP.UL] (DIC), the paper said.

 The deal would create a three-way ownership structure with CVC, Blackstone and KIRKBI A/S all holding about a 30 percent stake in Merlin, the world’s second largest theme park operator after Disney, the paper said. 

Dubai International Capital (DIC), which sold a 17 percent stake in Merlin last year, is expected to offload its remaining 6 percent stake to CVC, according to the FT. 

Earlier this year, Merlin tempered reports it planned to go public, saying all options for the group’s future ownership remained under consideration.  

Merlin, which owns the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life centres, declined to comment. CVC was not immediately available for comment on the report. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Marguerita Choy)