Blackstone makes sell offer to NBC-Universal for its stake in Universal Orlando

Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:18 PM | Contributed by Rick_UK

Private-equity giant The Blackstone Group is looking to unload its stake in Universal Orlando, triggering a chain of events that could ultimately put the entire resort — which is in the midst of its most impressive financial run ever — on the auction block. NBCUniversal now has three months — until June 12 — to accept the offer and buy out the private-equity firm. If NBCUniversal turns Blackstone down, it will trigger a provision allowing Blackstone to seek out an outside bidder to buy the entire resort.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:57 PM

I think Comcast and GE would be stupid not to act on the deal (assuming GE has a say with their 49% or whatever). The park has enjoyed a synergy with the other arms of the media business from the start. I think it's an essential part of the package. I doubt it's any surprise that this offer was coming, given the recent success.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:07 PM

Could they be setting this up for them to buy the whole thing ?

Say they offer to sell their 50% for 400 million

Comcast/Nbc Universal says no. They put the whole park up for bid .Then they offer 720 million for the whole park.(360 to comcast/nbc/universal)

This is a win for Blackstone whatever happens.

They get a profit if Comcast/Nbc/Universal pays,They get profit if someone buys the whole thing or they could end up owning the whole park.

Worst case no one makes offer and things stay the same.


Last edited by kevin38, Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:10 PM
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:24 PM

That's an interesting idea on the "sell to buy" theory...but I'm not sure if I buy that (no pun intended, I assure you).

Didn't Comcast say during the initial merger talks that they really weren't interested in the parks? Of course, I seem to remember Comcast being very interested in the parks when they were looking at Disney. Now Disney was a different kind of beast compared to this, but I would wonder why Comcast - especially with the success of Potter - wouldn't want the resort now? Interesting development.

This is definitely one of two things; a chance for Blackstone to profit nicely off their investment, or a chance to continue their investment by owning the whole thing. Given their past with the investments in the industry, I would not be surprised to see them have the entire resort, despite what I did say above, it just would not surprise me. I would lean towards the first, but the second would not be surprising.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:26 PM

I never had the impression that Blackstone was into keeping anything for exceptionally long periods of time. I mean, if much of their business is private equity, I'm not sure they want to have a lot of cash tied up in something for a long time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:41 PM

Exactly. Which, like I said, is why I am not necessarily "buying" that theory. I do wonder, though, if Blackstone would already have some quiet bids or notions for who would be interested? I can't see them doing this without at least having some idea of what the waters would be like. I would expect the only way this would drag out for the full 9 months of the sell deal would be if an investor they thought was lined up for this would suddenly pull out a few months in before the deal was finalized. But I also can think of only one other group/investor that would be interested based on past investment/proposed investment; Apollo.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:19 PM

I just hope Dick doesn't pounce on this and end up moving Rip Ride Rockit to Carowinds once he closes the Studios down and gets rid of the licensing agreements.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:37 PM

I'm pretty sure this one is out of their price range. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:38 PM

He'll just charge more for crappier food to cover the costs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:55 PM

Ugg. It'll never happen, but it hurts my brain to imagine a sterilized, Cedar Fair owned Universal Orlando.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 7:04 PM

"Dueling Flight Deck" does have a certain charm to it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:02 PM

HAHA. I wrote a whole post with possible names for all the rides in IOA, but I just couldn't get myself to push the Submit Reply button.

Thursday, March 17, 2011 1:11 AM

I think Blackstone sees this as a way to maximize their return on the park if they sell out to NBC-Universal, and the sale option would be a way to scare NBC-Universal into buying. But given what we've seen elsewhere in the industry, I think NBC-Universal is really the only logical buyer. I think there is a huge probability that if NBC-Universal doesn't buy Blackstone out, there won't be a sale.

Unless, of course, CNL Lifestyle Properties decides to become even more like Premier Parks... :(

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 10:33 PM

The Incredible Hawk.


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