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Blackstone to buy Busch/InBev theme parks for up to $2.7 billion

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Anheuser-Busch InBev and The Blackstone Group announced today that Anheuser-Busch InBev will sell its entertainment business to Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P. for up to $2.7 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Blackstone will acquire Anheuser-Busch InBev’s wholly owned subsidiary, Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC), the second largest entertainment park operator in the United States with approximately 25 million annual visitors

The purchase includes:

  • SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida
  • Busch Gardens and Adventure Island in Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Two more SeaWorld parks in San Antonio, Texas and San Diego, California
  • Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Other Busch/InBev-owned family entertainment attractions in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

In addition to the new purchase, Blackstone also currently owns 50 percent of the Universal Orlando theme parks. The firm also owns Merlin Entertainments Group, which owns Legoland theme parks, Madame Tussauds Wax Museums, The London Eye and more.

Worlds of Discovery President Jim Atchison made this statement:

“A short time ago, Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P., an investor fund advised by The Blackstone Group, announced that it had reached agreement with Anheuser-Busch InBev to purchase the company’s entertainment park division, Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC). While you may have never heard of BEC, if you are reading these words you know who we are.

“BEC operates 10 Worlds of Discovery – SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Discovery Cove, Aquatica, Sesame Place, Adventure Island and Water Country USA – some of the best-known and most-loved entertainment parks in the world today. More than 25,000 men and women make up our team. Each is dedicated to providing you the very finest family entertainment experiences and service anywhere.

“For all of us at Worlds of Discovery, this is an exciting development. This new phase in our history is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the principles that have guided us for the last 50 years. This is also our opportunity to make a promise to you. We pledge to deliver an experience that exceeds your expectations; an experience that brings you closer to those you love; an experience that is as enriching as it is thrilling and fun.

“Visit a Worlds of Discovery park. If it isn’t everything you hoped it would be, contact us. We’ll refund your admission. On behalf of the Worlds of Discovery team, thank you for your interest in our great parks. We hope to see you soon in one of our Worlds of Discovery.”

Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said:

“Busch Entertainment Corporation is a high performing asset with a world-class management team, but not a core business for Anheuser-Busch InBev. We are pleased to have reached an agreement with a buyer who understands the industry and has a strategic vision for the business. The sale of BEC represents another important milestone in our commitment to de-leverage the company and will also allow us to continue to focus on our core brewing business. “The Blackstone Group is a preeminent private equity firm and we are very happy to have reached an agreement with Blackstone. We have great respect for BEC’s management and employees and know they will continue to prosper under Blackstone’s ownership.”

Joseph Baratta, Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group, said:

“We have long admired the Busch Entertainment Corporation parks. They are the premier collection of entertainment parks in the United States and offer a unique family experience. We are pleased to have the opportunity to acquire this business. We have deep sector experience and look forward to working with the excellent BEC management team to continue to invest in and grow the company.”

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1 comment

djdrew October 7, 2009 - 12:52 pm

can i use my busch gardens fun card to go to universal now? : ) j/k

Reply

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