New CEO for Merlin Entertainments

Scott M. O’Neil replaces outgoing chief executive officer Nick Varney who has retired after 23 years.

Merlin Entertainments has announced the appointment of Scott M. O’Neil as chief executive officer, replacing outgoing CEO Nick Varney who has retired after 23 years.

O’Neil is a 25-year sports and entertainment industry veteran who was most recently CEO for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), a portfolio of sports, entertainment, and investment properties, where he oversaw more than $2 billion growth in enterprise value.

He has also led some of the world’s top athletic brands including New York Knicks – NBA, New York Rangers – NHL, Philadelphia Eagles – NFL and the Philadelphia 76ers – NBA.

In his new role at Merlin Entertainments, O’Neil will be responsible for overseeing business operations and global growth across the company’s 147 attractions in 24 countries.

O’Neil said he is thrilled to join the Merlin family.

“There is an extraordinarily talented management team, a driven, ambitious, hardworking, team centric, can-do culture, and a board led by KIRKBI, Blackstone and CPPIB which is committed and focused on growth and driving value,” O’Neil said.

“Nick has built an incredible business and achieved unprecedented growth in this industry and yet there are still tremendous upside opportunities ahead to continue the momentum. We are actively building and searching for new attractions and sites.

“Merlin will also aggressively look to expand our offerings and experiences in our current attractions. I am impressed by the talent, energy and dedication of the people at Merlin that I’ve met so far and am looking forward to working with the wider team to deliver on the exciting growth strategy.”

Merlin’s attractions include 10 LEGOLAND Resort Theme Parks and hotels, six Resort Theme Parks including Alton Towers, Heide Park and Gardaland, as well as a vibrant portfolio of renowned global brands in city destinations, such as SEA LIFE aquariums, Madame Tussauds, Peppa Pig World of Play, the London Eye and Sydney Tower Eye.

The company is continuing to expand, with three LEGOLAND Resorts in China under development and further openings planned across the US and Asia.

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