Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB

Merlin unveils US$315m plans for Legoland Japan

by Jak Phillips | 30 Jun 2014

Merlin Entertainments has today (30 June) unveiled plans for a high-profile development in the world’s second biggest theme park market, with the launch of its first Legoland in Japan.

The new park, to be located in the central city of Nagoya, will cost around ¥32bn (US$315m, €231m, £185m) in total and adds to UK-based Merlin’s existing portfolio of six Legoland parks in five countries.

First identified as a preferred site in late 2011, Legoland Japan will be opened in Q2 2017 under Merlin’s ‘operated and leased’ model, with the infrastructure being funded by a third party. Merlin will directly invest around ¥9.2bn (US$90m, €66m, £53m) in the park over the next three years and lease the balance of the assets from a company owned by KIRKBI Invest A/S (a subsidiary of investment and holding company KIRKBI A/S which has a 75 per cent ownership share in the Lego Group and a 29.9 per cent shareholding in Merlin).

KIRKBI’s investment, which is separate to that of Merlin’s, will be funded through a combination of equity and external debt provided by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). Merlin’s investment is expected to deliver returns consistent with the group’s stated pre-tax cash ROIC (Return on invested Capital) target of 20 per cent.

Merlin is looking to build on the success of its existing Legoland Discovery Centre in Tokyo. With the Japanese theme park market – the largest in Asia – valued at approximately US$6.8bn (€5bn, £4bn) and Lego brand awareness in the country already high, Merlin expects to attract a broad market, with a particular focus on young families.

Legoland Japan will be of similar scale to the recently opened Legoland parks in Malaysia and Florida and is expected to employ up to 1,000 staff. The Legoland Park Operating Group enjoyed 14.2 per cent revenue growth in 2013 – delivering over US$596 (€436m, £350m) in revenue with an EBITDA margin of 36 per cent – and Merlin sees the roll out of new Legoland parks as one of the key growth drivers of the business.

“The park will make a significant contribution to the growth of the Merlin group from opening in the second quarter of 2017, as well as supporting our continued geographic diversification,” said Merlin CEO Nick Varney.

“Long term, we continue to believe that there is significant opportunity for the Legoland brand, with the potential for up to 20 parks across the world and we remain committed to our target of opening a new park every two to three years.”

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Merlin Entertainments has today (30 June) unveiled plans for a high-profile development in the world’s second biggest theme park market, with the launch of its first Legoland in Japan. The new park, to be located in the central city of Nagoya, will cost around ¥32bn (US$315m, €231m, £185m) in total and adds to UK-based Merlin’s existing portfolio of six Legoland parks in five countries. First identified as a preferred site
TAW,VAT
A Lego driving school is expected to be one of the many fun-filled areas at Legoland Japan
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Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB