UK attractions operator Merlin Entertainments is expected to pave the way for a £3.5 billion stock market market flotation as it prepares to announce record profits of £350 million.
Sales for the owner of the London Eye Madame Tussauds, and are expected to have increased by more than 10% to over £1 billion last year, with operating profits up around 12% to £260 million and earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) up to £350 million, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Merlin is one of the biggest IPO prospects of the next 12 months with the company currently deciding whether to float in London or New York.
Insiders suggest the only step left is to contact the listing authorities in the chosen city and finalise banking advisers, the newspaper reported.
The company presents its annual results on Wednesday with a shift in focus from the UK and Europe to Asia and the US.
Merlin is expected to announce almost half of its business comes from outside Europe, with park openings in Japan, Thailand and China.
Merlin’s rapid expansion has made it the second-biggest theme park operator in the world with more than 50 million visitors a year across almost 100 attractions.
Merlin was one of a group of buy-out backed companies forced to scrap its IPO in 2010 because of the economic climate. Instead, venture capital giant Blackstone, which owns the majority stake, sold a 28% stake to CVC for about £330 million, valuing the group at £2.25 billion.
Blackstone shares ownership of the business with CVC and Kirkbi, the family investment firm that controls Lego Group.
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