In what must be one of the most unusual mergers and acquisitions ever, the parent company of the Danish Lego toy business has bought out the owner of the London Eye, Madame Tussaud's—and the Legoland amusement parks, which it sold to the company in 2005.
It may only be a matter of time before the Lego version of the Eye takes over.
The €6.6 billion Euro deal is headed by Kirkbi, the investment arm of Lego's founders along with Blackstone Capital and a Canadian pension fund. The company they are acquiring, Merlin Entertainments, is already 30% owned by Kirkbi, a stake they took in the Legoland deal. Merlin also owns other parks, including Gardaland in Italy, Heide Park in Germany and Alton Towers in England.
The Kristiainsen, whose money is invested through Kirkbi, control 75% of the shares of Lego. Kirkbi's chief told press he expects Merlin to enter a new growth phase. "With a shared understanding of the business and its culture, we believe that this group of investors has the unique collective resources necessary to equip Merlin ... for their next phase of growth.