The owners of Legoland and Madame Tussauds have unveiled a £1bn merger to create the world's second-largest operator of tourist attractions after Disney.
Dubai International Capital, which owns the Tussauds Group, will receive £1.03bn in cash and hold a 20pc stake in the combined business. DIC bought Tussauds for £800m in 2005.
Merlin Entertainments, the Legoland and London Dungeons-owner controlled by the private equity firm Blackstone, will be the majority owner of the merged company.
Together the two visitor attraction operators have a presence in 12 countries and welcome over 30m visitors annually to their 50 attractions.
Merlin's chief executive Nick Varney will head the enlarged group with Tussauds' chief executive Peter Phillipson as non-executive chairman.
Mr Varney said: "The combination of the Merlin and Tussauds brands, people, and operating expertise will create an exciting and world-beating global entertainment company.
"With such iconic brands, the expanded Merlin will not only have strong development potential, but also an amazingly robust and high value portfolio. Our ambition is to build on this to become the world leader in location-based, branded, family entertainment."
He added: "The combined group also has the resources and expertise to focus on accelerating current expansion plans for all the brands, particularly in North America."
Sameer Al Ansari, executive chairman of Dubai International Capital, said: "As responsible long-term investors, we believe that this is an excellent deal for Tussauds."
He added: "Tussauds and Merlin are very complementary businesses and there is an obvious commercial logic in bringing them together."
This is great news! Tussauds are now the second largest tourist attraction operator in the world! The future of Tussauds attractions can only get better in my opinion!