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Case
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Reference no. 9-210-014
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: 2009
Version: 8 September 2009
Length: 13 pages
Data source: Field research

Abstract

The Blackstone Group had conducted a roll-up of theme parks and attractions business in Europe. It was considering how to generate liquidity for its investors. Blackstone entered the theme parks and attractions business in Europe by acquiring a majority stake in UK-based Merlin Entertainment in 2005. In 2005 and 2006, Merlin Entertainment acquired two other similar businesses, LEGOLAND based in Denmark and Gardaland based in Italy. At the end of 2006, Blackstone's team was weighing its options for generating liquidity for its investors. The options were to conduct a dividend recapitalization of Merlin Entertainment or to acquire The Tussauds Group. The acquisition, if successful, would result in the second largest theme parks and attractions business in the world after Disney. The Tussauds Group was owned by another private equity firm, Dubai International Capital (DIC). Blackstone's goal was to make a minimum of 3x on its initial Merlin investment through the dividend recapitalization and at least 5x through the Tussauds acquisition. A third option arose while Blackstone was in negotiation with DIC. This was the opportunity to perform a sale-leaseback of the underlying real estate assets owned by Merlin and Tussauds. Based on the facts and financials provided, it is clear there were tradeoffs between the size of the potential returns for each option, timing, and the risks that have to be managed. What should the Blackstone team do?
Location:
Size:
500 employees, gross revenue USD3 billion (2007)
Other setting(s):
2006

About

Abstract

The Blackstone Group had conducted a roll-up of theme parks and attractions business in Europe. It was considering how to generate liquidity for its investors. Blackstone entered the theme parks and attractions business in Europe by acquiring a majority stake in UK-based Merlin Entertainment in 2005. In 2005 and 2006, Merlin Entertainment acquired two other similar businesses, LEGOLAND based in Denmark and Gardaland based in Italy. At the end of 2006, Blackstone's team was weighing its options for generating liquidity for its investors. The options were to conduct a dividend recapitalization of Merlin Entertainment or to acquire The Tussauds Group. The acquisition, if successful, would result in the second largest theme parks and attractions business in the world after Disney. The Tussauds Group was owned by another private equity firm, Dubai International Capital (DIC). Blackstone's goal was to make a minimum of 3x on its initial Merlin investment through the dividend recapitalization and at least 5x through the Tussauds acquisition. A third option arose while Blackstone was in negotiation with DIC. This was the opportunity to perform a sale-leaseback of the underlying real estate assets owned by Merlin and Tussauds. Based on the facts and financials provided, it is clear there were tradeoffs between the size of the potential returns for each option, timing, and the risks that have to be managed. What should the Blackstone team do?

Settings

Location:
Size:
500 employees, gross revenue USD3 billion (2007)
Other setting(s):
2006

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