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Rumor: New buyer on deck for Busch theme parks?

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Published: July 23, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Rumors are flying all over the industry that there's a deal emerging for InBev to sell the Busch theme parks. And it's not to Merlin, Universal or an investment bank.

It's... to the Busch family.

The reasoning goes that the Busch family will make enough from the sale of its shares in Anheuser-Busch to InBev that family members will be able to buy, or at least finance, the purchase of Busch Entertainment Corp. from InBev. And BEC wouldn't even have to change its name! Saves a few bucks on letterhead, at least. ;-)

The move would allow the Busch "brand name" to continue in the marketplace, something that is said to be very important to some family members. And it would ensure that the current management team would stay in place, though there might have to be some title-shuffling to accommodate Busch family members who do not now have titles within BEC.

Done deal, or wishful thinking? I don't know, but, wow, what a thought to wish....

Readers' Opinions

From Reid Loveland on July 23, 2008 at 9:50 AM
I've got my fingers crossed for this outcome. Who but the original owners would keep these parks running like they have always been?
From Scott Thatcher on July 23, 2008 at 10:07 AM
Oh that would be so GREAT!!! BGE has always been voted most beautiful park and I'd hate to see that change!!
From Larry Zimmerman on July 23, 2008 at 11:27 AM
Hate to throw cold water on the good news, but...will the Busch family have the capital to continue in the manner to which we have become accustomed? By that, I ask if the family has the deep pockets necessary to continue offering new attractions every few years, to maintain the pristine conditions in the parks, and to keep the employees happy enough to keep drawing the crowds? We all saw what happened at Six Flags -- trends to economize wound up alienating a huge part of their fan base. Here's hoping!
From Brian Emery on July 23, 2008 at 11:46 AM
Wow I hope So!!! Best rumor I have heard in a long time!!!!
And it makes sense; the parks are profitable so why not keep them. They could even have an IPO to pay for these parks…

My next year Disney only parks will now have to include one of the Busch\SeaWorld parks if the do go through with this…

From Justin Trinh on July 23, 2008 at 12:13 PM
I really hope this will happen as Busch has done such a great job with their parks. The question of whether or not they can keep the parks at their current condition as well as adding new attractions I think is surely possible. Just like it was said earlier, they could buy the parks and have a IPO if they needed more capital.

The parks themselves are profitable too. Just to give everyone an idea, according to the Anheuser Busch 2007 Annual Report, the entertainment division had a healthy net income of 162.9 million. 12.8% profit growth from the previous year, which was the third straight year of double-digit profit growth.

We have to remember that BEC is an subsidiary of Anheuser Busch and profits from BEC was probably most likely used to finance growth and improvements within the parks and not from the beer sales even though I could be wrong and that was done as well.

From Anthony Murphy on July 23, 2008 at 12:25 PM
That sounds like the best idea since it would be difficult to keep up the quality of the parks by a foreign company. I hope it goes through because it would be a shame to see the animal image of the Busch company go down since they are on the forefront of conservation
From Justin Spisto on July 23, 2008 at 2:19 PM
Im on my knees praying that the parks spin of into there own company. But the question is like before, will they be able to maintain the parks like before.
From Justin Moore on July 23, 2008 at 5:12 PM
I'm curious Robert, where did you read the reports? I'm not contradicting anything - I'm praying it works like that! - just wanted to read for myself. Quick Google didn't bring anything up...I'm unresourceful:(

Man, that is a wonderful thought though. The $$$ is obviously of some debate when it comes to maintaining the parks to the degree that they are today. But I don't care right now, it's just a relief to some degree to know that there's a chance, be it slim or not, that Busch parks may stay in the Busch family. At least that way we know that they'll try, and try hard, to keep things as they are!

From Andy Guinigundo on July 23, 2008 at 5:24 PM
I think that'd be ideal in the scheme of things that could happen. I love those parks. Additionally they do a lot of good work in conservation, animal rescue and the like.
From Andy Guinigundo on July 23, 2008 at 5:26 PM
Plus, they might hopefully continue the tradition of free samples!!! Not to mention housing some of those beautiful horses...
From Derek Potter on July 23, 2008 at 7:10 PM
The million dollar question is...

Does the Busch family really want the parks?

They will have the money to make this happen, but do they want to spend it? I certainly hope so, because the Busch parks are too good of a product (not to mention a moneymaker) to just toss away. One thing I wouldn't be so sure about is removing the current seemingly top notch management in lieu of family members running things. Not that the family would necessarily be incompetent, but if I were the big cheese in a deal like this, I would want those in charge to stay right where they are, because it's pretty evident that they are doing a great job running the franchise.

From Rob P on July 24, 2008 at 12:46 AM
The Busch family buying back control of the Parks sounds like an ideal scenario provided that they have the capital to take them forward.

The question will be whether the public would accept any potential increases in ticket prices , if required, to sustain the family connection if they do need to raise extra funds.

Competition from other Parks is getting more and more aggressive and capital investment in them greater and greater each year. I'd hate to see Busch Gardens Parks
deteriorate due to lack if investment so that has to be the priority over sentiment.

From David Sutter on July 24, 2008 at 2:33 AM
I belive it will be te Busch Faimly that buys and runs the parks, One reason is the recent relocation of Busch Entertainment to Orlando. When go thru all the trouble of moving your Entertainments Head Quarters, When your Planning on selling the whole thing? And Both Sea World Orlando, And Africa are located in Fl. And both are year round operations. Most of this makes sense if one just seats back and gives it a think. And If one takes note the Berwery Tour at Africa was removed to make way for Kuwnza roller coaster. And more money is being invested in both parks to add more attractions. So everyone do the math...Grant money for animal conservation, year round operations. And another question did Busch sell its interest in Sergrams Group?

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