The company which operates some of Blackpool's best known attractions has been sold in a £5.9bn deal.

Sea Life Blackpool, one of the attractions owned by Merlin which has just been bought in a 5.8bn deal
Sea Life Blackpool, one of the attractions owned by Merlin which has just been bought in a 5.8bn deal

Merlin has been taken over by Danish plastic bricks and theme parks owner Lego, with help from two other investors.

It is as yet unclear how this may affect the Blackpool attractions at the Tower, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Blackpool and the Blackpool Dungeon, but the new owners have said the deal will allow the company to grow.

Blackpool Tower, where Merlin operates the dungeon, circus and other attractions

Blackpool Tower, where Merlin operates the dungeon, circus and other attractions

Merlin, which also has Alton Towers, already had close connections to Lego, operating the Legoland centres in the UK and with the Danish firm already owning 30 per cent.

Bosses said they had rejected a number of previous takeover proposals before accepting the one from Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego's Danish founding family, long term investment partners and private equity firm Blackstone and pension fund Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

Kirkbi, which is backed by the billionaire Kiristiansen family which started Lego, has stated that it did not expect the deal to lead to any significant changes.

Merlin floated on the London Stock Exchange only six years ago, at an initial price of 315p per share. The new deal valued the company at 455p per share.

Soren Thorup Sorensen, chief executive of Kirkbi, said: "As the long-term owner of the Lego brand and as a strategic shareholder in Merlin since 2005, we have great pride and passion for this amazing company, its management team and its employees.

"With a shared understanding of the business and its culture, we believe that this group of investors has the unique collective resources necessary to equip Merlin, including the Legoland Parks and Legoland Discovery Centres, for their next phase of growth."

Chairman Sir John Sunderland said: "Merlin is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment, with a unique portfolio of brands and attractions spanning 25 countries and four continents, and with a proven strategy that has delivered over many years.

"The company has generated meaningful value since its IPO (Initial Public Offering), with significant growth in revenue, earnings and cash flow.

"Following an unsolicited approach by a consortium of investors, and after rejecting a number of their proposals, the Merlin independent directors believe this offer represents an opportunity for Merlin shareholders to realise value for their investment in cash at an attractive valuation."

Mr Sunderland said the board unanimously recommended the deal to the company's shareholders.

Last month, activist shareholder ValueAct Capital, which holds a 9.3 per cent stake in Merlin, called on the company to find a private buyer.

Merlin grew out of a single Sea Life aquarium business in Oban, Scotland.

In 1998, Nick Varney, Andrew Carter and the senior management team of Vardon Attractions completed a management buyout of the company to form Merlin Entertainments Group.