Make us your home page
Instagram

Busch Gardens owner could spin off theme parks in initial public offering

TAMPA — Busch Gardens, a theme park known for its roller coasters, is facing its own thrilling ride.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc., which owns 10 parks including Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, is close to filing to go public early next year, according to reports by Reuters and Bloomberg News.

Wall Street firms Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have been hired to handle the initial public offering, which could result in the fourth change of ownership for Busch Gardens since 2008. The move is expected to raise $500 million for SeaWorld Parks' parent company, Blackstone Group.

The New York-based investment firm bought the amusement parks from Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2009 for $2.7 billion, not long after InBev bought the St. Louis-based beer company. Blackstone also owns the United Kingdom-based Merlin Entertainments Group, which owns Legoland and considered going public a few years ago.

Spinning off from a diverse, global firm — companies in Blackstone's portfolio employ more than 730,000 people — could benefit the theme parks, said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors based in Virginia, about an hour from Busch Gardens' Williamsburg park. Blackstone earned a reputation for running quality, guest-oriented theme parks, which should make them attractive to potential investors.

"This will provide more independence and ability for the company to pursue goals that it wants to achieve long term," Gerner said.

On the flip side, he said, not having the mighty backing of Blackstone could limit the parks' resources to weather a financial crisis, such as another recession or an accident. SeaWorld Orlando's attendance dropped from 5.8 million in 2009 to 5.1 million in 2010 after a park trainer was killed by a whale. It also could affect the company's ability to get favorable loan terms for expensive new attractions.

Peter Rose, a spokesman for Blackstone, said he could not comment on a possible IPO, citing SEC regulations. Fred Jacobs, a spokesman at SeaWorld Parks in Orlando, also declined comment.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

Busch Gardens owner could spin off theme parks in initial public offering 12/19/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]