Merlin Entertainments, owner of the Legoland & Sea Life attractions, has acquired The Tussauds Group from Dubai International Capital (DIC) for £1bn.
The deal makes Merlin, which is owned by the US private equity group Blackstone, the second largest attractions operator in the world after Disney. DIC will retain a 20 per cent stake in the combined company.
Merlin's chief executive Nick Varney said: "The combination of the Merlin and Tussauds brands, people and operating expertise will create an exciting and world-beating global company. With such iconic brands, the expanded Merlin will not only have strong development potential, but also an amazingly robust and high value portfolio.
"Our ambition is to build on this to become the world leader in location-based, branded family entertainment."
The combined company will own 50 attractions and four hotels in 12 countries - employing over 13,000 staff - under brands including Madame Tussauds, Legoland, Sea Life, Alton Towers and Gardaland.
Peter Phillipson, Tussauds' chief executive, who will become non-executive chair of the enlarged group, said: "Joining forces with Merlin represents a very exciting opportunity to develop these brands as part of the world's largest visitor attractions business.
"The combined business will be in an excellent position to continue the development of The London Eye and our theme parks, as well as accelerate the rollout of Madame Tussauds around the world."
Source: Attractions Management