THE operator of some of the world’s most famous leisure attractions is set to stay in Poole after a £5.9billion takeover.

Merlin Entertainments owns such tourist favourites as Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, Blackpool Tower and Sea Life.

It has agreed a takeover bid from the owners of Lego, a private equity giant and a Canadian pension fund.

An announcement of the proposal said the bidder “does not intend to make any material changes in location of Merlin’s headquarters and headquarters functions”.

It said no changes were planned “with respect to the redeployment of Merlin’s fixed asset base, or the research and development functions of Merlin”, adding: “Furthermore, the consortium expects to keep open all existing Merlin attractions in the UK and is not intending to dispose of any material part of the Merlin business.”

The bidders have voiced their support for chief executive Nick Varney and his management team.

Merlin said it had rejected a number of previous takeover proposals.

Merlin’s HQ in Link House on West Street, is the base for an international business whose attractions are spread from Florida to Japan and Malaysia. It has eight Legoland parks around the world, with a new one to open in Goshen, New York, in 2020.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “It’s an exciting development for the company and prepares it for future growth. It’s great to hear that it will be staying in Dorset.”

The consortium bidding for Merlin consists of Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego’s Danish founding Kiristiansen family, plus Blackstone and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

It values the company at 455p per share, 15 per cent above their value at the end of trading on Thursday. Merlin floated on the London Stock Exchange six years ago at 315p per share.

Søren Thorup Sørensen, chief executive of Kirkbi, said: “ We are committed to ensuring Legoland and the other activities in Merlin reach their full potential, which we believe is best pursued under private ownership, in order to deliver fantastic experiences to visitors of all ages around the world.”

Merlin 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.”

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.”

Fiona Orford-Williams, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said: “This deal makes a lot of sense for both parties.

“Merlin will be able to undertake the investment projects needed to bring the attractions up to the standards that can deliver high-quality, exciting experiences for visitors in a longer-term payback scenario. Lego gets to diversify its attractions portfolio.”