Four bids for Tussauds

Charterhouse Development Capital (CDC) is reported to be examining four bids worth around £900m for portfolio company Tussauds Group, owner of Madame Tussauds waxworks.

UK buyout firms BC Partners and Permira plus French group PAI and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts of the US have all submitted offers for Tussauds Group, according to a report in The Business.

The Business quotes sources close to the bidders saying that they expect to be told which two firms have made it through to the final round of bidding early this week. But it also said one source claimed the four bids were not as high as hoped and that CDC may therefore opt for an initial public offering (IPO) of the business rather than sale.

CDC acquired Tussauds Group from Pearson in 1998 for £352m, and has since invested more than £300m in the company. It has been keen to exit the group for some time and appointed Lazard to advise on its options. When it emerged that a flotation was being looked at, a range of private equity firms and entertainment groups made expressions of interest in an acquisition.

In 2002, Tussauds Group delivered EBITDA of £65m, an increase of 49 per cent on 2001. Turnover also increased to £178.4m, up 29.9 per cent on 2001.

Tussauds Group is one of Europe’s largest operators of visitor attractions, with 15m visitors per year. The group consists of waxwork museums in London, New York, Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Hong Kong as well as theme parks such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.