Blackstone buys €375m Lego set

The US private equity firm has acquired the Danish-headquartered theme park operator, its second major European theme park deal in the last two months.

Blackstone Group, the New York-based buyout firm, has announced the acquisition of the Legoland theme park business for €375 million ($470 million).

Affiliate company Blackstone Capital Partners IV will acquire 70 percent of the Danish-headquartered amusement park operator along with management. The remaining 30 percent will be retained by the Lego group and Kirkbi A/S.

The combination of Legoland and Merlin creates a unique asset in the leisure industry.

Joseph Baratta, senior managing director, Blackstone Group

Legoland operates four family theme parks in California, Denmark, England and Germany and also has a 176 room hotel on the Danish site. The parks comprise Lego brick sculptures, water rides, live shows and other attractions.

The deal follows on from the acquisition in May of UK theme park operator Merlin Entertainments for £102.5 million and Blackstone intends to merge the two businesses, according to a statement.

The merged entity, which will be known as Merlin Entertainments Group, will be the second largest visitor attraction in Europe with approximately 12 million annual visitors.

Blackstone reportedly beat off competition from a number of other private equity firms, including Palamon Capital, Spectrum Equity, Apollo Management and Dubai International Capital.

Blackstone: piecing together the theme park jigsaw

Commenting on the transaction, Blackstone senior managing director Joseph Baratta said in a statement: “The combination of Legoland and Merlin creates a unique asset in the leisure industry. We will also consider selective acquisitions that are consistent with our strategy of building a world class family-oriented leisure business.”

Blackstone is currently in the process of raising its latest global buyout fund, which is expected to close around $11 billion later this year.