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Busch Parks Up for Sale

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Published: June 27, 2008 at 6:26 PM

It looks as though no matter who wins in the InBev - Anheuser-Busch (AB) Takeover Battle, The Busch Parks are on the chopping block.

The AB board of directors unanimously agreed to reject Belgian based brewer InBev's offer of 46.3 Billion dollars. However, siting a decision to improve company performance in a presentation to company shareholders this morning; AB announces that the sale of the parks among other options (such as layoffs) would save AB billions.

So Theme park fans, sound off. What can we do to save the purpose of these parks? Is this the right decision for AB? Who would take over the parks? And, would the mission of animal conservation remain?

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Readers' Opinions

From Larry Zimmerman on June 28, 2008 at 5:20 AM
This is an unsubstantiated rumor, specifically denied by the Chairman of the Board.
From steve lee on June 27, 2008 at 10:01 PM
expletive deleted.
From Bruce Lane on June 27, 2008 at 10:47 PM
OK -- I will freely admit I did not see this one coming.

I will say that I'm going to reserve judgment until I see what ultimately happens with the parks.

I will also say that, if the Sea World parks are suddenly "pushed out of the nest," as it were, as in operating without the backing of AB, they will have to compete on their own merits. Feed the public the same pablum they've been dishing out for the last few years, and the results will likely be unattractive to say the least.

As a side note -- While "animal conservation" may indeed have been one of their objectives, at some distant point in their past, I don't believe it is currently a big priority with them. In fact, one of Sea World's senior people told me to my face, TWENTY-FOUR YEARS ago, that Sea World's top-priority objective was to make money. Period.

If "animal conservation" was a primary goal for them, I have some questions: How, exactly, are they defining the phrase? What are their goals in that area? And how are they measuring their progress? As it stands now, the phrase is like saying "McDonalds sells healthy foods."

In any case -- this may ultimately help level the playing field for competing oceanariums that may not be as much in the public view as Sea World (yes, there ARE other oceanariums, and some bloody good ones at that!)

One thing's for certain: Anheuser-Busch would not have put Sea World, and their other parks, up for sale unless something at the business level was wrong. My guess is that, just maybe, the parks were not making the kind of money that AB expected of them.

If that's the case, Sea World will probably need to make some serious changes in order to survive once they're officially "cut loose."

Happy travels.

From Bill Thelen on June 28, 2008 at 4:44 AM
According to the Reuters report the parks are NOT for sale as part of AB's plan.
See link: http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSN2637658320080627

There is too much value in the parks to sell them off.
If INBEV wins then I think that they would be sold off.

From Larry Zimmerman on June 28, 2008 at 5:22 AM
OK - I listened to the entire investor call this morning, and the CFO specifically said selling the parks is NOT in the cost-savings plan. In fact, they expect single digit profit growth from the entertainment division, not an incentive to sell it off. "A sale, after tax, is not of benefit to our shareholders...[the entertainment division] really adds a lot of value...[revenue] is growing 9-plus percent..." per August Busch. This tracks with the reported Reuters story. So much for this rumor... Robert, perhaps you should require posters to cite sources before posting stuff like this...
From Ben James on June 28, 2008 at 7:20 AM
The facts collected in the story I wrote. Were based on various news sources reporting that the parks were on the table for sale.

People here in St. Louis are on edge about what may or may not happen. The parks are an aspect that is concern here. Specifically, because AB runs Grant's Farm. A free attraction about animal conservation and the history of Ulysses S. Grant.

And, despite what is reported in the Reuters story, august Busch himself announced on local news that he was in favor of the InBev buyout.

How he is presented in that story is opposite of his attitude locally.

And for the record, I never stated that they would be sold. Just that it is an option being looked at to improve company performance.

From Derek Potter on June 28, 2008 at 8:33 AM
I've been following this story, and I've heard nothing of the parks going up for sale. I do know that Inbev's initial offer was rejected, and that Inbev will probably go hostile. It seems to me though that the company's approach toward the raid is to grow the business and trim the fat rather than slashing costs. I don't think that A-B is foolish enough to cut and run.

Unfortunately it still is all about the money. Despite A-B's stance as an "iconic American company", dollars reign supreme in many people's eyes...especially many of the people that already have a lot of them.

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