Busch/Blackstone Open Thread
There's much talk that a deal between Blackstone and the Busch Entertainment Group for a purchase of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks will be announced Wednesday morning.
Since I'm on the west coast, this deal could happen in the very early hours of the morning, before I log on. If it does get announced, I've opened this thread for readers to post details as they come available and talk about the deal. (And if it doesn't, just go ahead and talk about whatever you want to talk about.)
Update: Thanks to everyone on the east coast for the comments overnight and this morning. The overnight open thread worked well. I might do this more often in the future.
Let's see if we can put this all together:
There's no sale at this point. The meeting this morning was a regular employee information meeting at SeaWorld Orlando. As far as I can tell, there have been no meetings at other Busch theme parks.
From day one after InBev closed the deal with A-B and put the parks up for sale, folks who cover the entire industry (i.e. more than just Disney) have figured out that Blackstone Group was the only entity with any theme park experience that had the capital to make a play for the Busch Entertainment Corp. (though Disney and Universal would kick the tires to see how they were holding up).
Once reports got out that Blackstone execs were in the parks, getting the insiders' tour, observers figured that a deal was close. So as soon as one of the parks scheduled a big employee meeting, folks put two and two together and figured that would be the time of the announcement.
One Central Florida station went so far as to report the deal was done, and included quotes from yours truly, from an interview I did last week talking about the hypothetical of a Busch/Blackstone deal.
I concur with the commenter who said that the company wouldn't likely announce the deal on the same day as a big employee news meeting if it didn't announce it at that meeting. In my experience, deals like this get announced late in the day, anyway, not during trading hours.
FWIW, I also think there's a lot of BS floating around out there about how this deal would play with Universal Orlando. Let's not forget that Blackstone owns only half of UO. It wouldn't spend the cash to buy SeaWorld Orlando and create a synergy with UO unless its partner at NBC Universal brought some cash to the table, too. Why spend the money to give NBCUni half the benefit?
A Merlin synergy makes more sense, since it would allow Merlin access to the SeaWorld brand and... (this gets me really excited) could lead to bringing Lego and Sesame Street together in various parks. That's marketing gold there. Blackstone has a 70% stake in Merlin, with Lego as a minority partner. If the Busch family is brought in as another minority partner with this deal, taking some of Lego's equity in exchange for that equity becoming more valuable with the addition of the BEC parks, the deal makes even more sense. (I can't see Lego putting up cash to buy BEC.)
I can't see why NBCUni would front half the expense to have the UO entity buy the BEC parks. Where's the advantage for NBCUni, outside of Orlando?
If this deal happens, I see it as either a Merlin acquisition or an independent investment. In neither case do I see formal UO involvement, again, unless NBC Universal is going to put up cash. Of course, I could be totally wrong, in which case you may feel free to hop in the comments and call me an idiot. :-)
First headline in the Orlando Sentinel this morning...the old
Crew meeting seems to be at 8 am.
The news this morning said the announcement was to be made at 8 AM but I haven't seen anything posted yet.
Seaworld orlando is reporting to me they in the call centers have not heard anything but have heard employees talking about hearing about it, and they are guessing there is going to be a big meeting this morning, I will continue talking to them throughout the day will post any information i find out!
News 13 broke the story. Blackstone is buying Sea World, Aquatica and Discovery Cove. As I am typing this a news helicopter is flying above ore job site trailer which sits in the lot right next store to Aquatica.
Well since there is nothing to say regarding this, I just want to say, I am going to Halloween Horror Nights on Friday! And today is my birthday! Yay me!
big meeting is over at seaworld and nothing was said to the people that work there about the sale, Looks like it was all just over romers at this time. Things may change as the day goes on
According to all news sources (including news 13) SeaWorld owners have no comment on the possible sale. Nothing has been confirmed!
News 13 started running reports about the sell, and on the web site the story quotes are own Mr. Niles.
I cannot image that insiders are incorrect on the closed deal between AB Inbev and Blackstone. Especially because they were communicating it so loud, clear and confident. They day still is long... Please Robert, can you elaborate?
So you do a full staff meeting and don't announce anything and then later that day you drop the bomb? Not likely. If it does happen, will show just how out of the loop the Busch people are.
Ok...so if this sale does go through, what does this mean for Seaworld and the other parks? Would the park be expanded and improved on or would it just be used to get money until it grows old and they'll just sell it to somebody else?
Lets see Bush Entertainment sold its theme parks to Blackstone, Balckstone owns Merlin Entertainment...
Just to correct something, Merlin Entertainment does not owned Wet-n-Wild and Universal. Blackstone Group owns Merlin Entertainment and Blackstone separately owns 50% of Universal.
Opps My mistake...but they are related...sorry
Merlin's marine mammal policy is incompatible with keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. Check the merlin website.
Just so you know, the hashtag on Twitter for the Busch Entertainment Company sale is #BECsale.
Sorry, I don't mean it Robert, but you invited it.
Someone please post on here as soon as they hear anything. I currently work at SWSD and would really like to know what's going down. Nobody here is talking. Should I quit my job once the sale goes through or does anyone thingk it'd be worth staying?
I also work at SWSD and some people are saying its a done deal while others havent heard anything at all about Blackstone.
And for what it is worth, Busch has regular open employee meetings every few weeks at all the parks, so in reality this "meeting" was just a regular scheduled all invited meeting that a lot of people speculated on. It is interesting that the Merlin policy on marine animals would not allow Sea World to operate its shows if Busch was under the Merlin umbrella. Let's throw something else out there...let's suppose Blackstone buys Busch and put's Merlin under the Busch Entertainment umbrella. Busch has some of the best run parks in the business...
It's my opinion that somebody called the news media and said there is a team member meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. today, thus starting the rumor of a sale. I work at Sea World here in Orlando, and the meeting was about benefits and new information about Halloween and Christmas......that's it. SWSD team members, stay put, right now it's a rumor.
Jason I dont know where you get your information but it is wrong.We dont have regularly scheduled meetings.We have them about twice a year.And until you work for a company you dont know how its run.
Ummm... a meeting that happens every six months would be regularly scheduled, wouldn't it? Not frequent, by most standards, but certainly regular.
I said ABOUT twice a year.It depends on whats new or the economy.Sometimes more sometimes less.Certainly not every few weeks.
ABOUT is the keyword. In the past three years, SWSD has had maybe 2. During the InBev purchase only salaried team members got to hear all the sale news.
Ok folks, take a breath. Buying a multi-BILLION dollar company does not happen over night. It takes a while. Although this "secret" has been well kept, many people are very insistant that the process is under way. It makes sence that the announcement will be without warning if the rumor related to the IPO is true. The slow leaks of interest help build anticipation and test the financial waters. If an IPO goes out and no one knew there was a financial opportunity, no funds will be raised.
I am only familiar with what goes on at Busch Gardens Williamsburg where they have these communication meetings about every 4 to 5 weeks according to a friend of mine who works there. I was just assuming that the other parks did the same thing. Sorry if I offended the Sea World folks.
Busch Gardens and Seaworld are competitors to Universal Orlando. Universal would not want to own them. That would be cannibalistic not synergistic. Blackstone has a non-compete with Universal inside the state of Florida. My guess is Universal only waives that non-compete for a large sum of money. This deal while attractive for Blackstone is impractical without major concessions from Universal or Blackstone exiting that investment.
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