UK private equity house Charterhouse Development Capital has set a Thursday deadline for bids for the Tussauds Group, the leisure and museums group acquired by Charterhouse in 1998.
Charterhouse is planning to evaluate bids for the business following the deadline, before deciding whether to proceed with a sale or opt for a stock market listing, according to Reuters. Bids for the business are likely to be pitched at around £900m.
PAI Partners is one of a number of private equity firms to have expressed interest in the business, and is thought to be among the frontrunners having submitted a £900m bid, according to The Observer newspaper. Two other private equity bidders, BC Partners and Permira, dropped out last week.
PAI Partners is likely to face competition from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the US private equity firm, which has been linked with a number of larger European buyouts of late, including the E1bn acquisition of Brenntag, the German chemicals business of Deutsche Bahn.
CDC acquired Tussauds from Pearson for £350m in 1998. In 2002, The 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.
The Tussauds Group is one of Europe’s biggest operators of visitor attractions, with 15m visitors per year. The group comprises Madame Tussaud’s 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. The company also operates The London Eye and Warwick Castle.
Investment bank Lazard was appointed by Charterhouse in September to coordinate the sale process for Tussauds. Lazard was unavailable for comment.