Busch Entertainment likely to sell to Blackstone for $3 billion

Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 10:19 AM | Contributed by ridemcoaster

Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private-equity firm, may buy A-B InBev’s theme parks, which include SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, for about $2.5 billion to $3 billion, unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.

Read more from Bloomberg and St. Louis Business Journal.

Monday, October 5, 2009 10:29 AM

Well, we at least know Blackstone has the chops and know-how to run parks, unlike the morons who scrwed up at HRP (AND Freestyle Park!)

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Monday, October 5, 2009 10:45 AM

That seems like a really good deal. Loosely figuring all parks attendance at around 20 million per year, at $50 per-cap including attendance (just a lowball guess) they would cashflow over a billion per year. I like that Blackstone seems to be more in the buy-and-hold mentality, too. Hopefully this will be good.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 12:19 PM

Only, what, a billion more than the Paramount Parks?? That tells you what a deal Busch is and what a rip Paramount was!!

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Monday, October 5, 2009 12:36 PM

Perhaps it tells you a bit about the current economy too.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 12:49 PM

There are obviously significant differences in the actions of a private equity firm and those of a "mom and pop" CEO with no experience in big business.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 1:03 PM

Fongers!

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Monday, October 5, 2009 1:35 PM

I think the big question is how will Blackstone intergrate Busch Entertainment with their other operations. Will they merge it with Merlin, NBC Universal, both or neither?

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Monday, October 5, 2009 1:58 PM

Blackstone won't have any stake in NBC Universal. And they own (a majority I believe) of Merlin. I don't understand your question.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 2:11 PM

I misspoke; I meant Univeral Orlando. My questions are will Busch entertainment become apart of Merlin and will there be any consolidation or cross promotion between the Busch parks and Universal Orlando?

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Monday, October 5, 2009 2:38 PM

I'm not sure if there's a reason to combine operations, though the original sources I heard from (months ago now) suggested that it was specifically Merlin that was the unit moving on the acquisition. I never quite understood that, as I would assume that Merlin as its own entity is not capitalized enough to make that kind of buy without the mothership. So goes my understanding of corporate finance!

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Monday, October 5, 2009 2:48 PM

Jeff said:
I never quite understood that, as I would assume that Merlin as its own entity is not capitalized enough to make that kind of buy without the mothership. So goes my understanding of corporate finance!

No, you had it right. They aren't capitalized enough to do it as is. So, either they are doing an IPO, as mentioned previously, or Blackstone is funding a new "fund", that will buy the parks unit, and Merlin manages it in a cross licensing agreement.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 4:00 PM

KYJoe said:
Fongers!

You guys were right. This came back to me. Like I said, at least Blackstone (and it's Merlin division) has expereince in running parks.

Last edited by Hopman, Monday, October 5, 2009 4:00 PM
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Monday, October 5, 2009 10:08 PM

So any chance they have a soft spot for suspended coasters? ;)

Fongers! LOL

$1 Billion a year on admission alone. That's a real eye-opener as to the amount of money involved. I remember a while back, someone here mentioned something about Disney World (or the Magic Kingdom at least) being able to sustain itself on soda sales alone. But I've also heard that the Busch parks are the most expensive parks in the industry to operate.

So will, the parks be re-branded as Merlin Gardens?

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Monday, October 5, 2009 10:28 PM

I think there may be a twist to all of this that people aren't expecting.

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Monday, October 5, 2009 11:57 PM

Please let it be the resurrection of BBW [crossing fingers]

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 12:44 AM

In what universe do you think that's gonna happen? The ride is already coming down.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 6:56 AM

Is it really, didnt realize that. You said a twist people weren't expecting, my irrational hope would be that twist would be keeping BBW.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 9:43 AM

Jeff said:
In what universe do you think that's gonna happen? The ride is already coming down.

The ride was standing as of Sunday afternoon... (not that I think there is much hope of it staying) but it is still standing.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009 10:07 AM

Lets be specific. Track is standing.. Trains...Not so much..

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