Blackstone Buys Busch Gardens & SeaWorld Parks for $2.3 Billion

Blackstone Buys Busch Gardens & SeaWorld Parks for $2.3 Billion
The proverbial writing has been on the wall ever since InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch last year. The Belgian brewer planned to sell A-B’s theme parks as they were not the companies core business; brewing beer. After months of speculation, U.S. equity firm Blackstone has stepped forward to purchase Busch Entertainment Corporation’s parks which include 10 amusement parks: SeaWorld Orlando, San Antonio, & San Diego; Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Tampa as well as other parks including Sesame Place and Adventure Island. Busch is considered the second-largest entertainment park operator in the U.S. after Walt Disney Co. and has about 25 million visitors a year and 25,000 employees.

Thankfully, Blackstone Group has theme park experience with investments in Universal Studios Orlando, Legoland, and Madame Tussauds wax museums. That sets my mind at ease as Busch’s parks are my favorite of any park chain. Also, quotes like these from both sides of the deal make me confident in the chains future too:

Blackstone sees opportunity investing in media and entertainment businesses, said Michael Chae, senior managing director at Blackstone.

“We are delighted to be investing in a company with such iconic brands, irreplaceable assets and strong growth prospects,” he said.

It’s not clear how much the business is worth. According to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s annual report from 2008, the entertainment unit had pro-forma revenue of 932 million euros, or about $1.37 billion. It has not included the unit’s quarterly performance in its results this year.

Busch Entertainment CEO Jim Atchison said the company looks forward to growing the business under its new owners, who he said have strong experience in the entertainment industry.

Park guests and employees should expect to see only improvements, he said.

“We’re very committed to growth, to maintaining the quality of the parks, the investments of the park,” he told The Associated Press.
Yahoo Finance

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