Banks vie for £2bn float by owner of Madame Tussauds - Business News - Business - The Independent

Banks vie for £2bn float by owner of Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments Group is in final preparations for a £2bn London Stock Exchange listing in early 2009 that could propel it into the Ftse-100.

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Cazenove, Citi, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche and BNP Paribas have all pitched over the summer to be one of two bookrunners for the listing.

Although a formal beauty parade for advisers has not been held, all the banks have presented their cases for the mandates over the past two months. They are awaiting a decision by Merlin and its owner, private equity giant Blackstone.

Citi and Goldman were identified by one market source as the favourites, as they could provide the necessary financial muscle to refinance Merlin's debt burden, a necessity ahead of a listing. Although the debt is believed to be more than £1bn, this is not a heavy burden on a company the size of Merlin.

A listing has long been the ambition of Blackstone and Merlin's management. In a newspaper interview in July, Merlin's chief executive, Nick Varney, said: "If a flotation is going to happen then the markets have to be open – and at the moment they're not." He added: "Merlin would be a very strong and popular listing but I can't say at the moment if we're going to float."

It was believed that the chance of a listing had been delayed until the second half of next year, but it seems that the recent stock market rally has made Merlin and Blackstone reconsider.

Merlin, based in Poole, Dorset, has been the poster child of the private equity industry, regularly cited as one of its greatest successes. The group was originally known as Vardon Attractions, which owned the Sea Life Centres, and has grown into the world's second biggest entertainment group after Disney.

Under a "buy-and-build" strategy, in which private equity owners purchase complementary business to create a powerful empire, Warwick Castle, Legoland and the London Eye are among the many attractions to have become part of Merlin.

A leading leisure sector banker said: "They [management and Blackstone] are trying to do this as soon as possible – quarter one 2010 or even quarter four this year."

A second source said that Merlin is "playing its cards close to its chest" over the appointments, but confirmed that two advisers would be necessary due to the size of the flotation. It is understood that banks have told Merlin that a listing could be worth from £1.75bn to more than £2bn.

There are suggestions that Blackstone could include Center Parcs, the resorts group the private equity giant bought in 2006, in the listing, which should ensure that the deal was of enough scale to put Merlin in the Ftse-100.

In 2008, Merlin's revenue was £662m, which was bolstered by the previous year's purchase of the Tussauds Group, which owned Alton Towers as well as the international waxwork exhibitor, for £1bn.

Blackstone is also examining options for the Hilton hotel group, another company in its portfolio, which it brought for $26bn (£16bn) at the height of the market in 2007. The choices include debt-for-equity swaps for parts of the business and public listings along geographic lines. Hilton, like most hotels, has struggled during the recession. It is thought that Blackstone wrote down the value of its investment by 50 per cent last year. The group is heavily indebted – $21bn was originally borrowed to complete the purchase.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Training Coordinator / Resource Planner - City, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week