Merlin soars past £1bn and eyes a float

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The Independent Online

Merlin Entertainments, the owner of the London Eye, Legoland and Madame Tussauds and Thorpe Park, said a flotation is under "active consideration" for this year yesterday, as the group's revenues broke through the £1bn barrier.

It added that it expects to make a decision towards the end of its third quarter, with a potential listing – forecast to value it at more than £3bn – in New York and London.

Nick Varney, the chief executive of Merlin, which is backed by the private-equity giants Blackstone and CVC, said: "We have always said that we would look to 2013 to 2014 as the next possible window for floating Merlin."

Merlin yesterday posted a 16.5 per cent rise in operating profits to £258m in the year to 29 December, despite "one of the most challenging years we have experienced since founding Merlin in 1999".