Former Viacom exec and investors approached company about selling park unit

Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 9:27 AM | Contributed by supermandl

A team led by a former top Viacom executive has quietly approached the media giant about buying its Paramount Parks unit, The New York Post has learned. Tom McGrath, who stepped down as head of Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Enterprises last summer, has lined up investment firms Spectrum Equity Partners and GS Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs' private equity arm, to back him in his efforts to acquire the theme parks business, sources familiar with the situation said.

Viacom co-COO Tom Freston confirms that they're considering "doing something" with the Paramount Parks unit.

Read more from The New York Post and The Globe And Mail.

Friday, February 25, 2005 11:23 AM
I'd be happier about this if I wasn't *already* impressed with the way Paramount Parks are run (recent ride name-changes notwithstanding, LOL). But seriously, the potential downside of having the PPs under new ownership is at least as great as the potential upside, IMO. I'm not saying they're perfect and have "nowhere to go but down", but those parks are in PRETTY good shape as is...YMMV.
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Friday, February 25, 2005 1:32 PM
^Well of course the only way to make it worse is to sell control of PP to SFI

Paramount parks definitely is in good shape compared to SFI (as we all know)so I'm not really sure why viacom would want to sell & if they did who they'd sell to,still for paramount there's nowhere to go but up even higher....assuming they play their cards right.

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Friday, February 25, 2005 1:43 PM
And Six Flags would finance another billion dollars how? That's certainly nothing to worry about.

The only thing that worries me about investment organizations getting involved is that "outsiders" don't seem to get the business in terms of it being the ultimate hospitality business. Snyder didn't get that for Six Flags, and it's hard to come up with worse ideas than those Six Flags already had!

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Friday, February 25, 2005 3:22 PM
I wonder if the chain would be kept intact, or would the company that buys the chain have its eye on a few of the parks and sell the rest off?

Batwing Fan SFA, sounds like Viacom wants to sell not because the chain isn't doing well but because they want to focus on "core" assets, presumably broadcasting and production, possibly publishing. I've long thought a chain of theme parks was an odd fit for Viacom, since they really didn't use the parks as effectively as Disney in terms of cross-promotion -- and when they did, it was too often rather ham-handed. Introducing areas themed to Wayne's World, for example just struck me as inane, since the popularity of the films would wane and the theming, in time, would just make no sense. You'll notice that most of the Wayne's World theming is long gone.

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Friday, February 25, 2005 3:49 PM
Yes I know now why they are looking to sell after reading that article,can anyone imagine the possibilities for PKD if CF ever got hold of the place?

I just hope Universal doesn't get in on the act because it would only mean more simulated attractions based on films than they have at paramount parks now,now if CF buys them out they'll definitely improve it even more than it is today....the only thing I'd be worried about is how well they'd be able to maintain the woodies in the chain.

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Sunday, February 27, 2005 10:22 PM
Do any of us truly know if Paramount Parks is making money?

I've seen a few indications that they aren't as "in the black" as one might think.

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Monday, February 28, 2005 12:38 AM
According to Viacom and the results they released last summer, they were looking at a 16% increase in attendance that helped carry the division, which got its ass kicked by the feature film department (sadly, Mean Girls couldn't carry all the weight).
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