Merlin Entertainments Group, Europe’s largest and the world’s second largest parks and amusement attractions operator, is breaking into the Australian and New Zealand markets after agreeing to an A$115m (US$113.9m) deal to buy the attractions of Village Roadshow, the entertainments group.

Under the terms of the deal, Merlin will acquire Sydney Attractions Group and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World from Melbourne-based Village Roadshow.

The transaction will give the UK-based group Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World, Sydney Tower Observatory and Skywalk, Manly Oceanworld in Sydney, and Hamilton Island Wildlife Park in Queensland. It also receives Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World in Auckland, New Zealand.

The cash transaction that is likely to be concluded in the first quarter of 2011, and a Merlin spokesperson for Merlin said the group will look to initiate a "multi-million dollar" investment programme which includes rebranding the assets.

Plans are also in place to develop two more of the company’s "Midway" attractions – a Madame Tussauds and a Legoland Discovery Centre.

"This is an important step for Merlin", said chief executive Nick Varney. "This will be the perfect springboard as we work to continue the roll out of the Sea Life, Madame Tussauds, Eye and Legoland brands in the Asia-Pacific region, complementing our existing strength in western Europe and North America."