LEGO announces East Asia’s first LEGOLAND Park to be built in Iskandar Malaysia:
Johor Bahru, 13 December 2008 – Iskandar Investment Berhad (“IIB”) today signed a landmark agreement with Merlin Entertainments (“Merlin”), the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, to build East Asia’s first LEGOLAND Park in Iskandar Malaysia.
This exciting RM750m joint venture – LEGOLAND Malaysia – is expected to be opened to the public in 2013 – and will be located in the northeast corner of Medini Iskandar Malaysia (“Medini”), a 2,300 acre international mixed-use development in the heart of Nusajaya, on land being developed by Global Capital and Development Sdn Bhd. Merlin Entertainments will design and operate the Park, and will become a 20% shareholder, whilst a consortium led by IIB will own the balance. The LEGOLAND Park will be the centrepiece of a 145 acre integrated complex, with a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 5.5m square feet that will include a unique lifestyle retail centre, offices, hotels, serviced apartments and residential units. This integrated complex, which will be substantially complete by 2013, will have a Gross Development Value of over RM3.5bn.
LEGOLAND Malaysia will be similar to the company’s four other hugely popular and successful LEGOLAND Parks – LEGOLAND Billund, LEGOLAND Windsor, LEGOLAND Deutschland, and LEGOLAND California.
Targeted at families with children between the ages of 2 to 12 years, LEGOLAND Parks are based on the universally popular LEGO® construction toy range. They offer families the opportunity to let their imaginations run free, and be immersed in LEGO® experiences with a unique mix of kid-powered rides, building challenges, spectacular LEGO® models, interactive attractions, family-friendly coasters and shows that pull the audience into the action. LEGOLAND Malaysia will feature more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions on the day it opens.
“IIB selected LEGOLAND as the partner for its first international theme park in Iskandar after many months of discussions and engagements with various operators and potential brand partners,” said IIB’s Managing Director Arlida Ariff.
“Given the significant increase in the number of themed tourism offerings expected in the Asia Pacific region over the next 20 year period, IIB felt that the product offering in Iskandar Malaysia had to be unique and focused.”
“Based on this rationale, IIB chose Merlin Entertainments/LEGOLAND because it provides educational entertainment that will attract families with young children to Iskandar Malaysia as a vacation destination,” said Arlida, adding that families with young children were a fast growing demographic group in South East Asia.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, commenting for KIRKBI Invest A/S – owners of the LEGO® toy company, and shareholders in Merlin Entertainments – said, “LEGOLAND is the ultimate experience of LEGO® values and potential. We therefore welcome this cooperation between Merlin Entertainments and Iskandar Investment Berhad to bring the LEGOLAND experience to East Asia, and we are confident that LEGOLAND Malaysia will be extremely successful.”
IIB believes that Iskandar Malaysia will benefit strongly from the presence of several key tourism catalysts into the area. Theme parks have a proven record of attracting a large volume of new visitors, as well as increasing the length of stay and expenditure by regular visitors – thus creating a strong multiplier for the local economy. Theme parks also create a vast number of jobs both during the construction phase, and once they open. Current estimates are that almost 5,000 jobs would be required, both directly and indirectly, during the various phases of the project.
The LEGO® brand is well recognised among Asian families, the very group that Iskandar Malaysia is targeting as its core tourist base. LEGO® is a strong brand in Malaysia and this is why IIB expects a strong following for LEGOLAND Malaysia from local Malaysian and Johor families.
“The Comprehensive Development Plan for Iskandar Malaysia identified the Tourism sector as one of the nine key economic pillars of the Region,” said Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Mokhtar, Chairman of IIB and Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional Berhad.
“At the end of 2006, we commenced a study to evaluate the feasibility of establishing an International Destination Resort anchored by a theme park in Iskandar Malaysia to further develop and deepen the Tourism sector.”
“We are pleased that such efforts have borne fruit and culminated in this signing of an agreement between Merlin and IIB, that will attract more tourists from neighbouring countries and the Asia-Pacific region into Iskandar. This is a significant first step in developing Iskandar Malaysia as an international tourist destination. We expect further visitor attractions to be developed in the coming years,” he said.
John Jakobsen, Managing Director of LEGOLAND Parks, said that he was looking forward to the rollout of East Asia’s first LEGOLAND Park, saying, “We love the location of Iskandar Malaysia and are delighted by our partnership with IIB. The LEGOLAND Malaysia Park will build upon the success of our other internationally recognised LEGOLAND Parks in Europe and North America, and we have no doubt that once open it will become the ultimate destination in the region for families with young children.”
Concluding, Merlin Entertainments’ Chief Executive, Nick Varney said: “We are very excited by this development which underlines our continued confidence in the market despite the current global economic situation. Our strong belief is that while not recession proof, quality branded attractions such as ours are recession resilient. Even when times are hard people will choose to get away from the ‘gloom’, and have fun together with family and friends. However they will choose destinations which offer real value for money and which they know will not disappoint. LEGOLAND Parks offer just that sort of reassurance and quality.”