SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. shareholder Blackstone Group reached an agreement to sell 21% of the theme park operator, its entire stake, to Beijing-based Zhonghong Group for $23 a share, or about $429 billion.
As part of the agreement, SeaWorld will consult on the Zhonghong Group’s theme parks, waterparks and family entertainment projects slated for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, SeaWorld said Friday. Last year, the Zhonghong Group acquired luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent.
In December, SeaWorld announced plans for its first non-U.S. property. The company will partner with Miral, developer of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island destination, to build SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. The theme park is slated to open in 2022.
Last year, SeaWorld took a net loss of $12.5 million, compared to net income in 2015 of $49.1 million, as attendance at its dozen theme parks fell 2.1%, to about 471,000 guests, primarily from fewer visits to its Florida and Northeast U.S. locations.
In late 2015, SeaWorld unveiled a broad plan to turn around its business that included investing in new rides and phasing out the controversial killer whale show at its San Diego park. The company was the subject of backlash from animal rights groups as a result of negative publicity generated by the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which was critical of SeaWorld’s killer whale program.
Blackstone acquired SeaWorld in 2009 for $2.3 billion.
-Originally in Travel Weekly news by Danny King / March 24, 2017
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