Tussauds sale nets managers £30m

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The Independent Online

The managers behind the Tussauds Group, owner of the London waxworks museum and a number of theme parks, are cashing in £30m from the sale of the group to a Dubai-based investment fund.

The managers behind the Tussauds Group, owner of the London waxworks museum and a number of theme parks, are cashing in £30m from the sale of the group to a Dubai-based investment fund.

Peter Phillipson, the chief executive of Tussauds, is to stay on at the company with 70 other managers after its take-over by Dubai International Capital (DIC). The deal values Tussauds, majority-owned by Charterhouse Capital Partners, at £800m, £500m of which is debt. Charterhouse bought Tussauds in 1998 for £352m.

Mr Phillipson, 50, is reinvesting half his share of the business back in to the company. "I'm still quite young and I didn't want to go off and retire. I love the business, I'm very proud of the fact that profits have doubled over the past four years and I want to carry on," he said.

There are also hopes that the Dubai deal will help safeguard the future of the London Eye, in which Tussauds has a 33 per cent stake. Tussauds, the architects who designed the iconic structure on the bank of the Thames, and British Airways, which also owns a stake, have been locked in a dispute over the attraction's mounting debts for the past year.

Tussauds has in the past been accused of trying to force out the other shareholders, but yesterday Mr Phillipson denied that it was trying to stage a full takeover of the London Eye. "It is not our intention to take control. Marks Barfield, the architects who designed it, are very keen to stay involved and to keep a share. We are committed to finding a solution to the Eye's financing problems," Mr Phillipson said.

Charterhouse has been looking for an exit from Tussauds for time. It has made a number of investments to expand the business, which now runs waxworks exhibitions in New York, Las Vegas and Hong Kong. Tussauds also owns Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.

DIC is the investment arm of Dubai Holding, the state-controlled enterprise that owns and manages businesses in sectors diverse as hotels, tourism, health care, technology, finance and education.

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