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Theme Parks: Merlin Entertainments Deal With Village Roadshow Completes

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The deal announced in December 2010 by Merlin Entertainments Group (‘Merlin’) to acquire the Sydney Attractions Group and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World from Village Roadshow (‘VRL’) was completed today.

Related:    Merlin Entertainment confirms talks with Circle Entertainment   /  Interview with Merlin Entertainment’s Mark Fisher, MD Theme Parks / Merlin Entertainments announces plans for $12 million Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza / Merlin Entertainments to Open Sea Life Center Aquarium at Crown Center, Kansas City

Merlin’s first entry into the Australian and New Zealand markets is at the highest level.  The deal includes Sydney’s top three tourist attractions – Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World and the Sydney Tower Observatory and Skywalk, as well as Manly Oceanworld in Sydney, the Hamilton Island Wildlife Park in Queensland and Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World in Auckland, New Zealand.

Committed to a multi-million dollar investment programme for the six attractions, Merlin will draw on experience gained from running global brands such as SEA LIFE, the world’s biggest aquarium brand and their observation ‘Eye’ attractions, to optimise their potential.    More than that, plans are also underway for the development of another of the company’s global attractions in Sydney, Madame Tussauds, in 2012.

The group already has established Madame Tussauds attractions in Hong Kong, Shanghai and most recently Bangkok and will also be opening a major LEGOLAND Park in Malaysia in 2012. The entry into Australia and New Zealand will further strengthen Merlin’s position in the wider Asia Pacific region.

The company has appointed Edward Fuller (left) as Divisional Director to manage the new Australia/New Zealand ‘midway’ division.  Edward was previously General Manager of Madame Tussauds in London and he will work with the attraction teams and other Merlin colleagues to ensure a smooth changeover.

Commenting he said,    “These are exciting attractions with enormous potential.  They are well established and of a very high quality, and I believe will benefit greatly by being part of the Merlin ‘family’.    Most of all, even in my short time getting to know them, my colleagues and I have been very impressed by the operating teams who are knowledgeable and passionate about their businesses and I am sure that we have a lot to learn from one another.”

Merlin Entertainments CEO Nick Varney reinforced his comments made at the time of the initial announcement:   “Sydney is one of the world’s leading cities and these are iconic, well established tourist attractions with plenty of potential for future growth. Together with the businesses in Queensland and New Zealand they represent an excellent addition to our portfolio.  Merlin also remains interested in buying further high quality visitor attraction assets in the wider Asia Pacific region and these will give us a perfect base on which to build.”

Image: Edward Fuller, Merlin Entertainments’ new Midway Divisional Director for Australia and New Zealand

For further information:
Merlin Entertainments Group
Sally Ann Wilkinson
Head of Corporate Affairs
Penny Roberts
Tel: ++ 4420 8899 6110/ ++4420 8948 4225 / ++ 447774 415372
saw@thefirmcomms.com

About Merlin Entertainmenst Group

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years.  Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, following the VRL deal Merlin will have 70 attractions, six hotels/two holiday villages in 16 countries and across four continents.  The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its more than 40 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 15, 000 employees. Merlin Entertainments’ brands include – SEA LIFE – the world’s biggest aquarium brand; Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Heide Park and Earth Explorer.

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