London eye sold to Tussauds

The London Eye is set for a £50m (€72.9m) cash injection after British Airways sold its stake in the top-selling attraction today.

About 100 new jobs are expected to be created following the deal with The Tussauds Group, which acquired BA’s one third stake for £100m (€146m) and its outstanding loan to the company.

The group, one of the iconic structure’s founding shareholders, also announced today it had reached a settlement with Marks Barfield, the originators and architects of the Eye, to acquire its one third stake – which means Tussauds will own 100% of the equity in the giant wheel.

It is thought the deal with husband-and-wife team David Marks and Julia Barfield could be worth more than £10m (14.6m).

And the South Bank Centre and the British Airways London Eye announced they have finalised a new 25-year lease agreement securing the future of the site.

Under the terms of the lease the South Bank will receive a minimum of £500,000 (€729,000) a year.

As debts for the Eye, the UK's most popular paid-for attraction with 3.7 million visitors, spiralled to £175.2m (€255.5m), fears for its future grew.

But Tussauds intends to halve the debt and reduce the rates of interest to commercial levels that are sustainable and within the capacity of The Eye.

Peter Phillipson, chief executive of The Tussauds Group, said: “All parties have been working hard to secure the Eye’s long-term future and it is excellent news for all stakeholders that this has now been achieved.”

He said the Eye, which opened on London’s South Bank in 2000, had not previously been able to benefit from development investment due to the disparate agendas of the owners.

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