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Will parent of SeaWorld, Busch Gardens put theme park business up for sale?

SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby has reportedly hired investment Evercore to explore a possible sale of the theme park company if turnaround efforts do not succeed. SeaWorld Entertainment owns both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks. [AP Photo/Richard Drew]
SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby has reportedly hired investment Evercore to explore a possible sale of the theme park company if turnaround efforts do not succeed. SeaWorld Entertainment owns both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks. [AP Photo/Richard Drew]
Published Aug. 3, 2017

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment, the Orlando parent of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks, fell nearly 8 percent, closing at $14.07 Wednesday amid reports that the company has hired investment adviser Evercore to find a potential buyer. Beleaguered SeaWorld has suffered in recent years from a public backlash to breeding captive killer whales and using them for SeaWorld's Shamu-branded orca shows. Public opposition was stoked by the 2013 documentary film "Blackfish" critical of SeaWorld's handing of orcas. SeaWorld is stopping those activities but has struggled to find an entertainment formula that will sustain visitor numbers in its theme parks.

With the hiring of Evercore, SeaWorld wants a "fresh perspective" on how to handle their weak operational performance, says Dealreporter, a specialty new service that tracks merger activity.

Compounding SeaWorld's woes is the sudden departure announced this week of chief financial officer Peter Crage for another company.

When SeaWorld first went public in 2013 its IPO price was $27. The company will report its second quarter financial results on August 8.