TUSSAUDS AND BRITISH AIRWAYS PAVE THE WAY FOR THE LONDON EYE’S LONG TERM FUTURE
The Tussauds Group (‘Tussauds’) today announces
that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
with British Airways (‘BA’) that will help secure the long-term future of the UK’s most popular paid-for visitor attraction with over three million visitors a year. Tussauds, one of the three founding shareholders, has been responsible for the management and operation of The British Airways London Eye (‘The Eye’) since its inception in 2000.
Halving debt and securing long term stability
Under this agreement BA will sell its entire interests in The Eye including its one third share and its debt, currently at £175.2 million, for £95 million. Upon completion of the deal, Tussauds intends to put in place arrangements that will halve the debt and reduce the rates of interest to commercial levels that are sustainable and within the capacity of The Eye. It is anticipated that the transaction will be completed in early 2006.
Further Investment – developing The Eye and creating jobs
Tussauds, which has invested £300 million in its attractions over the past five years, would look to invest a further £50 million in The Eye and surrounding area over the next five years, creating over 100 further jobs. Tussauds’ vision for the future development of the surrounding area includes an interactive 'Flying over Great Britain' experience that introduces visitors to the nation’s cultural diversity and its broad variety of landmarks. It is working with VisitBritain on the development and marketing of this attraction.
In addition, Tussauds and The Eye management team will look at ways of improving the visitor experience by investing in queuing arrangements and ensuring visitors are comfortable and entertained prior to their flight.
Tussauds will continue to work with the local stakeholders to develop the South Bank, Jubilee Gardens and surrounding area so that it further extends its reputation as a cultural hub. This new programme of investment is in addition to the £21 million already invested in maintenance and improvement during the five years since The Eye opened.
Continuing partnership with The Eye’s architects, Marks Barfield
Since The Eye’s creation, Marks Barfield, the architect team responsible for the creation and design of The Eye, have played an integral part in The Eye’s success. Tussauds looks forward to continuing this partnership and working with them towards the future development of The Eye.
Commenting on today’s agreement, Peter Phillipson, Chief Executive of The Tussauds Group, said:
“It has been everyone’s objective to create a secure and long-term future for The London Eye and this deal will achieve this.
“We believe that we have the operational experience through our city centre attractions such as Madame Tussauds; theme parks like Thorpe Park; and national historic treasures like Warwick Castle to continue to develop The Eye as an icon that the City of London can continue to be proud of.
“We are extremely excited about the prospect of taking The Eye forward and developing this great cultural attraction. I would like to thank all the employees and the millions of visitors over the past five years who have helped to make The Eye the success it is today.”
Martin George, Commercial Director, BA said:
“I am delighted that we have reached an agreement that paves the way towards securing the future of The Eye for generations to come. British Airways has supported The Eye for nearly a decade and will continue to do so with the extension of its franchise agreement.
“The deal will also enable us to continue to strengthen our balance sheet and focus on our core business.
“Tussauds has proven experience as the operator of The Eye and since its launch in 2000 has helped make The Eye the most popular paid for attraction in London. The company is committed to the future development and success of The Eye for the benefit of the consumer and London’s £6.6 billion tourism industry.”