The Tussauds Group
The Tussauds Group is now part of Merlin Entertainments, the world's second largest leisure group, after Disney. It is based in Poole, Dorset from where it manages a portfolio of brands and over 50 attractions including the Madame Tussauds waxworks, Legoland Theme Parks, Legoland Discovery Centers, Sea Life Centres, Gardaland in Italy, Heide Park Resort in Germany, The Dungeons, The London Eye, The Blackpool Tower attractions, The Orlando Eye, Warwick Castle, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, and Chessington World of Adventures.
Between 1900 and 1977, Madame Tussaud's was the main asset for the Tussauds group. This changed in 1978 when the business was acquired by S. Pearson and Son, now Pearson PLC. Chessington Zoo was already owned by Pearson and became a Tussauds attraction. In the same year Warwick Castle was acquired. Rock Circus opened in the London Pavilion in 1989. Several small acquisitions were made before 1990, when Alton Towers was bought for £60 million.
In 1995, Port Aventura in Spain opened, in which Tussauds had a 40% stake and managed the theme park. The stake was sold in 1998 to enable the purchase of Thorpe Park, in South East England - management of Port Aventura ceased with its sale.
In 1999, after being part of Pearson for twenty years, Charterhouse Development Capital acquired the group. In 2000, the London Eye launched, owned by British Airways but managed by Tussauds. In 2001 the group purchased Heide Park in Germany, and Rock Circus was closed.
In 2005, the group was sold to Dubai International Capital for £800 million ($1.5 billion). In 2006, the group purchased the London Eye outright.
In May 2007, The Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group for US$1.9 billion and merged it into Merlin Entertainments with management by Merlin. Dubai International Capital then held 20% of Merlin Entertainment. The Tussauds Group as a separate entity ceased to exist.
On 17 July 2007, Madame Tussauds was sold to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement. Although the attraction sites are owned by Prestbury, they continue to be operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
- "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Alton Towers sold in £622m deal". BBC News. 17 July 2007.