Pearson plc, the international media group, has sold The Tussauds Group to a private equity fund managed by Charterhouse Development Capital for £352 million including repayment of debt. This follows the sale in June 1998 of the stake in Port Aventura, the Spanish theme park for £58 million, taking Pearson's total proceeds from the disposal of Tussauds to £410 million.
Under the terms of the sale to Charterhouse, Pearson is entitled to receive a further amount of up to £25 million in the event of a successful securitisation of the debt relating to the acquisition within the next six months.
Proceeds from the disposal will be used by Pearson to reduce Group debt.
Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, said:
"The Tussauds Group is a wonderful company full of creative and committed people and we wish them every success with their new owners. We've always said that someone would have to pay us a good price and provide Tussauds with a good home to convince us that a sale was worthwhile. Charterhouse has done both. The sale enables Pearson to concentrate our resources on building a tighter group of market-leading media businesses."
The Tussauds Group is the UK's leading visitor attractions business. It owns Madame Tussaud's and Alton Towers, the two most popular visitor attractions in the UK. It also owns and operates Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, the London Planetarium, Rock Circus, Warwick Castle and Scenerama in Amsterdam. Further Madame Tussauds' exhibitions are under construction in Las Vegas and New York. The group has also recently signed an agreement to manage and operate the British Airways London Eye, the world's largest observation wheel to be built on the South Bank of the River Thames.
In 1997, The Tussauds Group achieved sales of £107 million and profits before interest, tax and depreciation of £35 million. Depreciation was £13 million. As at 31st December 1997 the group had net assets of £129 million.
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