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Seaworld Parks & Entertainment Possible Sale, Merger, or Restructuring

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Evercore Partners is a financial advisor that specializes in mergers, acquisitions, and corporate restructuring. It looks like the purchase agreement prevents Zhonghong Zhuoye Group from taking the company private or buying more than 24.9 percent of the shares outstanding.


SeaWorld Entertainment said to have hired second advisor

Jul. 31, 2017 3:58 PM

SA Editor Clark Schultz

SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS -0.8%) hired Evercore Partners as a second advisor, according to DealReporter.

Last March, SeaWorld Zhonghong Group entered into a stockholders agreement with SeaWorld



This Chinese Company Is Now SeaWorld's Largest Shareholder

China’s Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co. agreed to acquire a 21 percent stake in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. from Blackstone Group LP, becoming the embattled U.S. theme-park operator’s largest shareholder.

Blackstone has been exiting its long-held SeaWorld position since the IPO, Crockett said, and questions surrounding the disposition of its remaining stake in the company had been an “overhang.”

After the deal closes, SeaWorld will increase the size of its board to 11, with Yoshikazu Maruyama, president of Zhonghong Group’s American operation, and Yongli Wang, chief strategy officer of Zhonghong Group, taking seats, the companies said.

Also under the pact, Zhonghong won’t be able to sell its stake for two years, and must get the approval of independent directors to buy more than 24.9 percent of shares outstanding.



Is it possible they are planning to sell off some or all of the parks? Would Six Flags or Cedar Fair be interested in buying some of the parks? SeaWorld San Antonio would be a good opportunity for Cedar Fair to get into the Texas market. SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens Tampa could be operated similar to Discovery Kingdom or Great Adventure under Six Flags and would become the new flagship parks for the chain.


Jim Reid-Anderson said on the Q2 2017 Earnings Call that Six Flags would look at any merger and acquisition opportunites that might come up.

Edited by Medusa42

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In my novel series, The Winter Trials (a mystery series based off Nancy Drew and Jeff Dixion's novels-as in taking place in the same universe, mention of characters, family ties), The Paidia Company (one of the company's that's trying to open Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans). They get control of the Bush Garden's parks (returning to their original titles, minus the Bush name) and the Sesame Place in Langhorne,PA (as well as Sesame Workshop and the Sesame Park in Mexico). They also own Kentucky Kingdom after Ed Hart dies (eventually sold to Cedar Fair after buying out Holiday World and building an Asian themed park in Nevada). My best guess is the SeaWorlds's and Williamsburg's water park are bought by Village Roadshow, who own Sea World Gold Coast, into their family. Williamsburg's water park is probably promptly closed and its rides scattered across the chain, most likely their project in China.

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When In-Bev went to sell the parks off after acquiring Anheuser Busch, one of the companies that considered purchasing the parks was Six Flags. Apparently it was too expensive for them at the time, but who knows.

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2009 was a bad year for Six Flags and Cedar Fair to attempt buying more parks, the timing should be better this time around.





SeaWorld's stock price fluctuates as report says sale consultant enlisted

SeaWorld is stepping up efforts to turn around the beleaguered company amid reports it has brought on an outside financial adviser that could be a precursor to a possible sale or reorganization.

The Orlando-based theme park company is said to have hired investment banking advisory firm, Evercore, according to sources cited Monday by Deal Reporter, a financial news service. Evercore is known as a firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, public offerings and private placements.

SeaWorld offered no comment on reports of the Evercore hiring. “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” said SeaWorld spokeswoman Aimée Jeansonne Becka.

The news comes ahead of SeaWorld’s quarterly earnings report next week and a Tuesday announcement that the company’s chief financial officer, Peter Crage, has resigned and is being replaced on an interim basis by Marc Swanson, currently the company’s chief accounting officer. The company said Crage is leaving to leaving “to assume a senior-level financial position at another company.”



While it’s unclear what Evercore’s specific mission may be, theme park consultant Dennis Speigel is convinced that a sale or break-up of the company is in the offing.

“This is a huge step and undertaking,” said Speigel, president of Ohio-based International Theme Park Services. “SeaWorld’s investor groups have been putting pressure on them for some time, and this is saying that the investors want out.

“Evercore is known as a specialist in investment banking that works with companies to sell property. It's like selling your house, they're your Realtor.”

Theme park analyst Bob Boyd of Pacific Management Group said Tuesday it’s too early to jump to the conclusion that SeaWorld might be up for sale. There are a number of options Evercore could be exploring, he noted.



“This was viewed as the year that things really had to turn around and that those earlier plans needed to bear fruit,” Boyd said. “Evercore does a whole bunch of things, so they could be looking at a range of things to enhance shareholder value.

“And it’s hard to know who would even be looking to buy an asset like this. Perhaps a Universal, which has been actively looking for land in Orlando. but that gets complicated because you're talking about animals and animal welfare.”



SeaWorld Entertainment Said to Hire Evercore to Explore a Sale

The rumor mill is churning on Tuesday morning and the target today is entertainment company SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) . The theme park operator is said to have hired Evercore partners as a second advisor to work alongside its other financial adviser JPMorgan, DealReporter noted, citing sources.

Shares are up over 1% at the market open.

SeaWorld stock spiked on Monday as a result of the report. The stock jumped by more than 6%, closing at $15.38. SeaWorld's stock price has tumbled over the years. When the company went public in 2013 its IPO price was $27.

The decision to hire Evercore was said to be the result of increased activist pressure. SeaWorld's reputation as a wholesome family amusement park was tarnished in recent years due to allegations the company mistreats the animals in its care.

Animal activists and some of the general public have been calling for SeaWorld to change its business model and move away from using performing marine mammals as its main draw.

SeaWorld is said to be looking for "fresh perspective" on how to handle their weak operational performance, DealReporter added.

Edited by Medusa42

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Merlin Hints At Interest In Buying SeaWorld’s Busch Gardens
Patrick Whyte, Skift
- Aug 07, 2017 1:00 am


Could UK-based Merlin Entertainments be about to make an attempt to buy Busch Gardens from struggling SeaWorld?


Recent reports have suggested that the Florida-headquartered theme park operator has brought in external financial advisers to examine the company, leading to speculation about possible sales and reorganizations.

If this does go ahead, Merlin is likely to be one of the companies interested in the assets.


Speaking after the company’s first-half results, Merlin chief financial officer Anne-Francoise Nesmes said it was keeping a close eye on Busch Gardens.


“It takes two parties to do a deal so we do not know what SeaWorld’s intentions are but we do believe that those assets [busch Gardens] are interesting and we could certainly do a lot with them particularly around accommodation, so to us it’s about having the right discussion with a willing partner and making sure we have the right financial return,” Nesmes said.


Merlin’s interest shouldn’t come as a surprise given that one of the six pillars of its current strategy is acquisitions. In 2012 the company acquired Living and Leisure Australia Group to expand into the Asia Pacific region and last year bought a stake in sightseeing company Big Bus Tours.


SeaWorld’s many struggles over the last few years have been well documented. Despite planning to phase out the breeding and showing of killer whales, it is still suffering from the damaging legacy of the Blackfish documentary. 2016 was a very bad year for the company.

Seaworld is due to update the market next week with its second quarter results, which is when we could find out what it intends to do with the business.


Edited by Medusa42

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Now it's getting interesting...





Reports: Legoland owner has approached SeaWorld about a sale

by Ed Hammond - Paul Jarvis - Ruth David - Bloomberg

October 5, 2017, 9:10 AM


Merlin Entertainments has approached SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. about a potential deal, according to people familiar with the matter, as the U.K. theme-park operator seeks to expand overseas to offset a slide in tourists visiting London.


Merlin, which runs the Thorpe Park Resort in southern England and Legoland parks across the world, has made a bid for part of the company, which could be a hurdle as SeaWorld prefers an outright sale, the people said. SeaWorld, which has been working with advisers to explore options including a sale, also received interest from other possible suitors, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details aren't public.


The offer comes as SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby struggles to stem declines in sales and the stock price of the Orlando-based park owner once famous for its killer whales. For Merlin, a deal by the operator of the London Eye and Madame Tussauds waxworks would mark a continuation of its strategy to expand internationally to cope with a drop in day-trippers to the British capital following terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.


Shares of Orlando-based SeaWorld rose 4.6 percent in late trading in New York on Wednesday. Shares of Merlin were up 1.8 percent at 10:51 a.m. in London on Thursday, giving the company a market value of $6.14 billion.


SeaWorld which is currently valued at about $1.3 billion, counts Chinese leisure firm Zhonghong Group as the biggest shareholder, with a 21 percent stake acquired in March from Blackstone Group. Zhonghong didn't respond to an email seeking comment during the Golden Week holiday in China.


Representatives for Merlin and SeaWorld declined to comment.


Merlin has a policy of not keeping cetaceans such as whales and dolphins in captivity, which would signal that its interest lies in SeaWorld's Busch Gardens theme-park assets. Chief Financial Officer Anne-Francoise Nesmes said on Merlin's earnings call on Aug. 4 that the Busch Gardens parks are "good-quality assets and that we would be interested. But it takes two parties to do a deal."


The company said in August it expects to meet profit estimates, with two-thirds of revenue coming from outside the U.K. and new attractions opening in China and India.


SeaWorld could raise as much as $1 billion from selling regional parks like Busch Gardens, getting funding to invest in its core aquatic-themed locations, Suntrust analyst Michael Swartz said in August. Busch Gardens has locations in Tampa, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia.


More than two years into an attempted turnaround of the company, the shares of the theme park operator have fallen 25 percent this year, amid shrinking attendance and missed earnings forecasts.


The park owner came under fire in the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which accused the company of mistreating its killer whales. Under Manby, SeaWorld stopped breeding orcas, created a new show in its San Diego park with animals performing more natural behaviors, and invested in non-animal attractions, such as roller coasters and ocean-themed rides.

Blackstone, the world's largest buyout firm, took SeaWorld public in 2013 after acquiring it four years earlier for $2.3 billion. Blackstone sold its final block of shares this year, cementing a return of about 2.7 times its original investment. Blackstone also owned Merlin in the past. The private equity firm acquired the entertainment company in 2005, bolstered it with acquisitions, sold a stake to CVC Capital Partners in 2010 and exited its final position in 2015.


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I'm hoping Merlin doesn't buy the parks. After reading how bad things have gotten at some of their other parks, most specifically, possibly closing or removing Colossos at Heide Park after not maintaining it, I don't know if I trust them to run these parks properly.

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Six Flags almost bought SeaWorld when InBev first tried to sell off the parks. Thank goodness they didn't end up buying!  

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Jesus, I wouldn't want to touch that mess with the whales.  I can't imagine any US publicly traded company touching that park with a ten foot pool.  Parques Reunidos seems not to have any concerns about dealing with the whole Blackfish thing as they already run zoos and animal parks all over the place including the Miami Seaquarium.

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