L’annonce est tombée la nuit dernière : le groupe LEGO est sur le point de racheter le groupe Merlin Entertainments à ses actuels actionnaires.

Les parcs d’attraction LEGOLAND ont été vendus en 2005 à Blackstone Capital Partner, alors que le groupe LEGO était en difficultés financières. C’est à ce moment qu’ils sont devenus un “morceau” de Merlin Entertainment, qui détient également le musée londonien Madame Tussaud et plusieurs parcs d’attractions un peu partout dans le monde. La famille Kirk Kristiansen détenait jusqu’ici 30% de Merlin Entertainment, via la holding KIRKBI A/S.

Sauf qu’aujourd’hui, la marque LEGO va nettement mieux. Le groupe a donc décidé de reprendre le contrôle de la marque LEGOLAND. Le groupe Blackstone et un fonds de pension canadien participent également au financement de l’opération, qui s’élève à 4,77 milliards de livres, soit un peu plus de 5,3 milliards d’euros. Cette opération permettra la prise de contrôle totale de Merlin Entertainment. Cette prise de contrôle sera suivie de l’interruption de la cotation du titre, le groupe reviendra donc une entreprise privée.

Ci-dessous un extrait du communiqué de presse.

London, 28 June 2019 – A consortium of long-term investors comprising KIRKBI Invest
A/S (“KIRKBI”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of KIRKBI A/S, the ultimate owner of the
LEGO® brand, funds managed as part of Blackstone’s long-dated “Core” private
equity strategy (“Blackstone”), and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (“CPPIB”;
together, the “Consortium”1) is pleased to announce that it has agreed the terms of a
recommended offer for Merlin Entertainments plc (“Merlin” or the “Company”).

The recommended offer is made by the Consortium at a price of 455 pence per share
in cash, for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Merlin, other than those
Merlin shares already owned by KIRKBI, which is an existing 29.58 per cent shareholder
in the Company. KIRKBI has agreed to work exclusively with the other members of the
Consortium in relation to the offer.

The offer will be made by a newly incorporated company which has been formed on
behalf of the members of the Consortium, with each of KIRKBI and the
Blackstone/CPPIB group owning 50 per cent upon completion.

The recommended offer values Merlin at approximately £4.77 billion2, providing
Merlin’s shareholders with the certainty of cash at a 37 per cent premium to the closing
price of 333 pence per Merlin share on 22 May 2019 (being the last business day before
the publication of ValueAct Capital’s letter to the board of Merlin which suggested
that Merlin should be taken private).

[…]

It is intended that the Acquisition will be implemented by way of a court sanctioned
scheme of arrangement under Part 26 of the Companies Act 2006. Following
completion of the Acquisition, and subject to customary regulatory approvals and
other conditions being met – including the approval of the scheme of arrangement
by Merlin shareholders – the Consortium expects the transaction to complete by the
end of 2019.

It is expected Merlin’s shares will de-list from the London Stock Exchange upon
completion of the transaction.

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