CARLSBAD, CA-Rumors are swirling that Danish toymaker the Lego Group has its four Legoland theme parks on the block and a deal with New York-based Blackstone Group is eminent, with an estimated $461-million price tag. But someone forgot to tell Lego officials, who are denying the sale in a statement released on the companys website.
We are engaged in the process of a sale, and we are unable to give further details, CEO Jesper Ovesen says. But our negotiations continue to be with several interested potential investors, and we can therefore deny media speculation that a deal has been reached. While he denied a deal with Blackstone, Ovesen did admit that Lego expects a sale to take place during the course of the summer.
Owned by the Kristiansen family, Lego suffered more than $312 million in net losses last year and the company has said it wants to use the sale of the theme parks to free up cash and lower the firms overhead and devote more energy to its core business--of developing plastic building bricks for children. It was only the fourth loss in the companys 72-year history.
Besides its Carlsbad location, Lego has theme parks in Billund, Denmark; Guenzburg, Germany; and Windsor, England that attract more than five million visitors a year. For Blackstone, it would be an expansion of the private equity firms theme park portfolio. The firm owns an interest in the operation of Universal Studios, Orlando and earlier this month, acquired London-based Merlin Entertainments for $187 million.