Le­goland draws up blueprint for Shang­hai park

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By SHI JING in Shang­hai shi­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Mer­lin En­ter­tain­ments Plc, con­sid­ered the world’s sec­ond-big­gest vis­i­tor at­trac­tions op­er­a­tor, has re­vealed plans to open an in­door Le­goland amuse­ment park in Shang­hai.

The FTSE-100 com­pany is launch­ing the ven­ture in part­ner­ship with Shang­haibased State-backed in­vest­ment fund CMC Cap­i­tal Part­ners.

The com­pa­nies will be hop­ing the an­nounce­ment might at­tract some at­ten­tion away from the much-an­tic­i­pated launch early next year of the gi­ant Shang­hai Dis­ney­land in the city.

Mer­lin has 14Le­golands glob­allyand­claims its sites in Cal­i­for­nia and Ger­many, for in­stance, at­tract 1.4mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally.

Asia’s first Le­goland was launched in­Malaysia in 2012 and two more are sched­uled to open their gates in South Korea and Ja­pan in 2017 and 2021.

The world’s first Le­goland was built in Bil­lund, Den­mark, the home of the in­ter­lock­ing toy brick maker Lego Group af­ter which it takes its name.

A 70 per­cent stake in the Le­goland theme parks was sold to the United States pri­vate eq­uity firm Black­stone Group LP in June 2005. Lego Group still re­tains a stake in the busi­ness.

Mer­lin al­ready owns four Madame Tus­sauds in China and the Chang Feng Ocean World aquar­ium in Shang­hai, as well as the Lon­don Eye and Alton Tow­ers in the UK.

Three more of its at­trac­tions are to open in China in the next 18 months, in­clud­ing a Le­goland Dis­cov­ery Cen­ter in Shang­hai, the ground-break­ing cer­e­mony for which was held late last month.

The new Le­goland park will be tar­geted at fam­i­lies with chil­dren aged be­tween three and 10.

Es­tab­lished in 2009, CMC has ex­panded fast in the en­ter­tain­ment and cul­tural in­dus­tries.

It an­nounced a joint ven­ture — Flag­ship En­ter­tain­ment Group Ltd — with Warner Bros En­ter­tain­ment Inc on Sept 20, two days ahead of Xi’s state visit to the United States.

To­gether with Dream­Works An­i­ma­tion SKG Inc, CMC also founded Ori­en­tal Dream­Works in 2012 to pro­duce Chi­nese-themed an­i­mated and live ac­tion films, and re­lated mer­chan­dise for dis­tri­bu­tion within China and glob­ally.

It has al­ready pro­duced a num­ber of record-mak­ing TV pro­grams, in­clud­ing the tal­ent show The Voice of China. It com­pleted its first round of fundrais­ing of $350 mil­lion in­May.

LiRuigang, CMC’s founder and chair­man, said in an ear­lier in­ter­view that it fo­cused in­vest­ment on three ma­jor ar­eas: Me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­tries which are more con­tent-ori­ented, In­ter­net and mobile communications which are more plat­form-ori­ented, and life­style.

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