Ashurst works magic for Merlin’s Florida buy

The City firm acted for longstanding client Merlin Entertainments Group on the acquisition and development of land in Florida for a Legoland theme park slated to open in 2011. The new theme park will be the biggest of the Legoland franchise to date.

Private equity partner Gavin Gordon led the Ashurst team advising ­Merlin, a company owned by private equity house Blackstone Group.

The 145-acre Cypress Garden site was purchased from Land South Group for a reported price of $22.3m. Merlin is understood to be planning a total investment of more than $100m.

Ashurst also acted for Merlin on its previous acquisitions of the London Aquarium in 2008, The Tussauds Group in 2007 and Gardaland in Italy in 2006.