November 28, 2014 / 9:20 AM / 5 years ago

Merlin to open first Legoland theme park in South Korea

Visitors arrive for a media preview of Legoland Malaysia at Nusajaya in the southern state of Johor September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Edgar Su

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Merlin Entertainments is to open a Legoland theme park in South Korea, as part of its long term expansion plans to generate more of its income from overseas markets.

Merlin, the world’s second largest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney, said the new theme park will cost up to 172 million pounds ($269.8 million).

It will invest around a third of the total, with the rest coming from a property company funded by local investors.

The site will open in 2017 in the northern town of Chuncheon, Gangwon Province and adds to the group’s growing portfolio of six Legoland parks around the world.

Merlin, which listed on the London stock market in November last year, is aiming to expand its business in the Americas and Asia Pacific with new sites.

It currently generates more than 60 percent of its revenues from Britain and continental Europe but its ultimate goal is for an equal split between Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific.

The company said in July it was advanced talks to open more Legoland Parks overseas after a sales surge at its U.S. sites on the back of “The Lego Movie” helped boost first half-profits.

Its shares added 1.2 percent to 371p by 0900 GMT (4 a.m. EST), compared with a flotation price of 315p.

Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; editing by Keith Weir

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