Merlin Entertainments, the Blackstone-owned theme park operator, said on Thursday it had no near-term plans to go public, a day after Blackstone-backed travel services group Travelport scrapped its London listing, blaming market instability.

In October a source familiar with the matter said Blackstone had called in Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, UBS and Nomura to advise on an initial public offering that could value Merlin at about 2 billion pounds ($3.13 billion) and come early in 2010.

We continue to consider and debate the options for our future ownership structure. All options, including an IPO, remain under consideration but we do not expect to reach any conclusion in the near future, Merlin said on Thursday.

On Wednesday Travelport called off its $1.78 billion listing, which would have been London's largest in two years, despite slashing the price range for shares by a quarter.

That followed a string of other scrapped IPOs involving Belgian, British and German companies.

Merlin said it had hired Charles Gurassa, former group chief executive of TUI Group, as a senior independent director to strengthen its board.

Merlin is the world's second-largest theme park operator after Disney, owning the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life centers.

Dubai International Capital (DIC), and KIRKBI A/S, a private Danish holding company that owns three quarters of the LEGO Group, hold minority stakes in Merlin.

People familiar with the matter have recently said the first stage of Merlin's listing process, called premarketing, could begin soon. But on Thursday one of them said no formal decision has been taken to begin pre-marketing.

($1=.6397 pounds)

(Reporting by Quentin Webb and Daisy Ku; Editing by Douwe Miedema, Greg Mahlich)