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CARLSBAD, CA-Rumors are swirling that Danish toymaker the LegoGroup has its four Legoland theme parks on the block and a dealwith New York-based Blackstone Group is eminent, with an estimated$461-million price tag. But someone forgot to tell Lego officials,who are denying the sale in a statement released on the company'swebsite."We are engaged in the process of a sale, and we are unableto give further details," CEO Jesper Ovesen says. "But ournegotiations continue to be with several interested potentialinvestors, and we can therefore deny media speculation that a dealhas been reached." While he denied a deal with Blackstone, Ovesendid admit that Lego expects a sale to take place "during the courseof the summer." Owned by the Kristiansen family, Lego suffered morethan $312 million in net losses last year and the company has saidit wants to use the sale of the theme parks to free up cash andlower the firm's overhead and devote more energy to its corebusiness--of developing plastic building bricks for children. Itwas only the fourth loss in the company's 72-year history.Besidesits Carlsbad location, Lego has theme parks in Billund, Denmark;Guenzburg, Germany; and Windsor, England that attract more thanfive million visitors a year. For Blackstone, it would be anexpansion of the private equity firm's theme park portfolio. Thefirm owns an interest in the operation of Universal Studios,Orlando and earlier this month, acquired London-based MerlinEntertainments for $187 million.

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