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blog.leisuremedia.com CREATING WEALTH


Great companies like Merlin Entertainments generate whole ecosystems around themselves, with employees and their families, shareholders, investors, suppliers, stakeholders and customers benefiting from the wealth, energy and opportunity they create


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n this issue of Attractions Management we pause to take a special, in-depth look at Merlin Entertainments, following its successful floatation in November last year and news it’s been named New Company of The Year


2013 at the London Stock Exchange PLC Awards (page 30). Great companies generate whole financial eco-systems


around themselves and a look at the numbers gives clues to the extent of that developing around Merlin. Although its value at floatation was around $5bn, it’s


already added $1bn to this, as well as reporting trading figures with an EBITDA of £390m and an increase in operating profit of 12.3 per cent on like for like revenue growth of 6.7 per cent. Merlin employs 22,000 people and thousands who were shareholders at the time of the floatation benefited from it. In addition, 3,000 employees have taken advantage of a sharesave scheme introduced in January. In his report on page 32, Deloitte’s Nigel Bland examines


The money came from all over the world: current fund CVC


raised 46 per cent of its investment in the US, 17 per cent in Europe and 16 per cent in the UK, with the rest coming from Asia, the Middle East and Canada, so Merlin’s powers of wealth generation have benefited investors globally. And the company generates value in other ways too. As


Those of us with long enough memories and faith in this sector recall the days when being called a Mickey Mouse business was an insult


a facility-based business, Merlin strikes property deals according to what’s appropriate, and those involved – such as Prestbury, which did a sale and leaseback deal with Merlin in summer 2007 – have seen the value of their covenants strengthened by the increase in value. But with Merlin, the end-


game is always the customer. Nearly 60 million people enjoyed the attractions last year and Varney told us he was adamant the floatation should be open to them, say-


the organisations and individual investors who’ve benefited from involvement with Merlin. It’s a long list, including investment vehicles such as Apax, Blackstone, CDC, CVC, DIC, F&C/Graphite, HPE, Kirkbi A/S and Pearson, the former owner of The Tussauds Group. Two represented private money: DIC who invested for the


crown prince of Dubai and Kirkbi for Lego’s founders, while Bland says HPE was owned by BT’s pension fund, so those with BT pensions will benefit from this slice of investment.


ing: “Some people tried to talk us out of having a retail offer because of the huge administrative burden involved. But this is a company people really want to own shares in – we sold 12.5 per cent to the general public.” Those of us with long enough memories and faith in the


industry recall the days when it commanded no respect among investors or governments and being called a Mickey Mouse business was an insult. How times have changed. Varney and his team have turned this right around and you feel they’re really only just getting started.


Liz Terry, editor, twitter: @elizterry


Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385


leisuremedia.com


@attractionsmag


theteam@leisuremedia.com AM 1 2014 ©Cybertrek 2014 Read Attractions Management online attractionsmanagement.com/digital 7


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