Tussauds Owners Said to Pick London Over New York for IPO

The private-equity firms that own Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd. plan to take the theme park operator public in London next year, after deciding against an offering in New York, people with knowledge of the talks said.

Blackstone Group LP, CVC Capital Partners Ltd. and Kirkbi A/S decided last month to proceed with an initial public offering in London after talks with Merlin’s managers, said the people, who asked not be identified because the talks are private.

Merlin, which runs the London Eye and Madame Tussauds, may sell shares to the public in the first quarter of 2014 in an IPO that may value the Poole, England-based company at more than 3 billion pounds ($4.5 billion), the people said. The owners, which each hold about a third of the company, hired Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. to manage the offering, the people added.

Spokesmen for Blackstone, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Merlin declined to comment. Spokesman for CVC and Kirkbi didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Merlin’s operating profit rose 17 percent to 258 million pounds in 2012, the company said in May.

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