Blackstone To Reduce Stake In SeaWorld Entertainment To 25 Percent

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The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) is planning to reduce its stake in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) by 15 million shares to 25%, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) is trading at $31.73 per share, down by more than 4% at the time of this writing, around 11:54 AM in New York. The shares of The Blackstone Group L.P. also fell by almost 3% to $32.94 per share.

The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) owns around a 43% stake SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS). The private equity firm could raise as much as $475 million from selling the planned 15 million shares based on the current stock price of SeaWorld.

SeaWorld plans to repurchase shares from Blackstone

The management of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) is engaged in active negotiations with The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) to directly repurchase 1.75 million million shares in a private transaction.

Last December, Blackstone sold 18 million shares of SeaWorld for $30 per share. The theme park and entertainment company bought back 1.5 million shares from the private equity firm as part of the offering.

The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) collectively sold 26 million shares and raised $702 million during the theme park and entertainment company’s initial public offering (IPO). The stock price of SeaWorld  rose 23% from its IPO price of $27 per share to its closing price at $33.17 last Friday, March 21.

2013 financial results

Earlier this month, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) reported that its revenue increased by 3% or $36.6 million to $1.4 billion for the fiscal 2013. Its adjusted EBIRDA was $439,1 million, up by 6% or $23.9 million last year. The theme park and entertainment company ended the year with $169.8 million adjusted free cash flow, and declared a dividend of $0.20 per share payable on April 1, 2014.

Jim Atchison, president and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) said, “Driven by record fourth quarter total attendance at our SeaWorld-branded parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio, I am pleased to report our third consecutive year of record revenue and Adjusted Ebitda…We are pleased to deliver on the financial and operating commitments we made in our first year as a public company. Delivering these results in a challenging operating environment is a testament to the strength of our brands, company, management team and, most importantly, our team members.”

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