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Madame Tussauds owner Merlin valued at up to $5.3 billion

Scott E. Barbour | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments said on Wednesday it expects to be valued at as much as 3.3 billion pounds when it makes its London stock market debut next month.

Private-equity backed Merlin, which operates 99 attractions in 22 countries, said 20 percent to 30 percent of the company would be sold in the listing, in which it is offering its shares at between 280 pence to 330 pence each.

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That would value the world's second largest visitor attraction operator behind Walt Disney (DIS.N) at between 2.86 billion pounds and 3.34 billion pounds.

Merlin, whose brands also include the Legoland theme parks and the London Eye, plans to raise 200 million pounds from the sale of new shares to reduce debt.

Its owners, the Danish investment firm Kirkbi A/S that controls Lego Group and the private equity firms Blackstone Group and CVC, as well as company directors and employees, will also sell some of their holdings, although Kirkbi intends to remain a significant long-term shareholder.

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Merlin put off plans for a listing in 2010 due to jittery markets, with shareholders instead selling a 28 percent stake to CVC. That sale valued the company, whose sites attracted more than 54 million visitors in 2012, at 2.25 billion pounds.

The offering, 10-15 percent of which is expected to go to small retail investors, is due to be completed on November 12.

Goldman Sachs and Barclays are running the sale, and are joint bookrunners along with Citi and Morgan Stanley.

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