More than 2,000 long-serving staff at Madame Tussaud's and Alton Towers are set to share a cash bonanza of around £200 million as an initial public offering (IPO) for Merlin Entertainment Group nears.
The firm, which also runs other top U.K. tourist attractions such as Legoland and Sea Life, is planning to price its listing on the London Stock Exchange at 315 pence per share, according to sources.
Around 800 million shares are expected to be on offer, amounting to around 28 percent of the company, with approximately 200 million of these being new issues and 600 million being sold by stakeholders, which include Blackstone and CVC.
The company will be valued at around 18.2 times 2014 estimated earnings or £3.2 billion in total with around £1 billion in debt.
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The deal is believed to have been oversubscribed with demand at the higher end of the price range, but insiders say that they were keen to see shares rise when the company starts trading. Staff will own approximately 6 percent of the company currently, however most of management will roll over its shares with roughly 30 percent of the overall management stake being cashed at IPO.
Merlin Entertainments is the largest European entertainments company operating in Europe, according to the firm, and is the second largest in the world. It runs 99 attractions in 22 countries across four continents.
It is one of the U.K.'s biggest private companies, regularly ranking in the top 100 largest by sales in a Sunday Times survey.