Merlin rules out buy-back of Madame Tussauds London site
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Merlin rules out buy-back of Madame Tussauds London site

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Attractions giant Merlin Entertainments has ruled out a move to buy back the freehold on its central London Madame Tussauds site, after the property’s owner confirmed it is for sale.

Property entrepreneur Nick Leslau has instructed CBRE to market the freehold following “unsolicited interest,” and is reportedly open to offers in excess of £300m (US$456m, €398m).

Leslau, whose other Merlin assets include Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, acquired the high-profile Merlin attractions in 2007 through his investment vehicle Prestbury Holdings on a £622m (US$1.05bn, €756m) sale and lease-back deal.

The Marylebone property – which has housed Madame Tussauds since 1884 – is owned by Secure Income Reit, which listed in June 2014 and is externally managed by Leslau’s Prestbury Investment Holdings.

The buoyancy of the UK property market has seen Secure Income Reit perform strongly since floating. In nearly eight months, its shares have jumped 74 per cent from the list price, swelling its market capitalisation to over £500m (US$760m, €663m).

Merlin pays around £15.5m (US$23.57m, €20.56m) per annum (rising annually with inflation) on its 27-year lease, but has zero interest in buying it back, according to a company spokesperson.

“It’s not something we’re looking at – we’re in the attractions game, not the property game,” the spokesperson told Attractions Management.

“We’ve got a long-term tenancy agreement in place with plenty of renewal options, so it doesn’t really make any difference to us who the landlord is.”

The Merlin team were the subject of an in-depth and exclusive profile in the Q1 2014 edition of Attractions Management entitled How to build a US$6bn company. To read the piece, click here.

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Attractions giant Merlin Entertainments has ruled out a move to buy back the freehold on its central London Madame Tussauds site, after the property’s owner confirmed it is for sale.
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