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WSJ: Busch/Blackstone deal near

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Published: October 2, 2009 at 2:21 PM

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a $2.5 billion to $3 billion deal for Blackstone Group to buy Busch Entertainment Corp., owner of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks, from InBev is near and might be announced next week.

Readers' Opinions

From Gareth H on October 2, 2009 at 3:18 PM
I see that as great news!
From TH Creative on October 2, 2009 at 4:47 PM
Will they hire a choreographer to tap-dance around their company (ahem) "ethics" policies regarding using animals as performers?
From Andrew Holden on October 2, 2009 at 6:48 PM
Awesome, the way I see it, aside from Busch himself this is the best company to take over the parks. I see great things coming in the future of the WoD parks.
From Robert Niles on October 2, 2009 at 7:42 PM
TH, that's Merlin's policy. If Blackstone buys BEC directly, as a new investment, and does not use Merlin as the vehicle, that issue is avoided.
From Bruce Lane on October 3, 2009 at 7:42 AM
Suggestion: Since the full WSJ article seems to be locked down in the interests of penny-pinching, a simple Google search for 'blackstone sea world' will turn up any number of results which appear to be just as informative.

For my part, I'm holding off on forming new opinions until I see (a), if this deal even goes through; and (b), what changes it will ultimately mean for the Sea World parks, specifically on the animal side.

I will say I find the potential for conflict, between Merlin and Blackstone, intriguing. Merlin is partly controlled by Blackstone, yet Merlin has a strict corporate policy against using animals as performers.

This was not an issue before, as the original A-B had no connection (that I know of) with Merlin. But if this deal goes through, would or could Merlin be forced, by Blackstone, to change their tune? Or would the new mini-empire simply sell off their share in Merlin?

I think next week's going to be pretty interesting.

Keep the peace(es).

From on October 3, 2009 at 9:05 AM
Any chance this will save Big Bad Wolf? Please please please...
From David Sutter on October 3, 2009 at 9:18 AM
Well Im going to consider it a done deal. As Ive stated before Sea World, Universal, and Wet and Wild have always had a connection ...Lots say no but then why can a cast member go to any of the three parks free? But the next week will tell more...
From Robert Niles on October 3, 2009 at 3:02 PM
Big Bad Wolf...? Uh, no. It's gone.
From on October 3, 2009 at 3:31 PM
Im not convinced its such a good thing if merlin gets there hands on the parks in any shape or form,being a brit having home parks like thorpe park, chessington, alton towers....in comparision to what you have in america these parks are very poor run down exspensive excuses of entertainment, if this is the example of what they would do to the wonderful busch garden parks and my beloved seaworld's im not convinced this is a good thing at all ! i know blackstone is a large share holder in universal orlando and that is where i pin my hopes, they keep universal to a brilliant standard and i hope due to the massive differance in tourism & population america has verses little britian i hope they plow there money and time in to keeping them the way they are and dont let them slip in to the run down jokes for parks we have. i see so many people complain online about the disney parks being under devolped, neglected etc... these parks are like a little slice of heaven compared to what we have some times i dont think you realise how lucky your are, from one very jealouse brit lol
From on October 4, 2009 at 7:04 PM
I still don't think Disney Will sit on the sidelines; Maybe a joint deal is in order Cedar Fair & Disney?
From Jason Jackson on October 4, 2009 at 8:45 PM
Everyone assumes that Blackstone would put the Busch Parks under Merlin...but their are other possibilities:

Blackstone keeps them as a separate company (most likely)

Blackstone puts Merlin under the Busch Entertainment Group. Busch is known for well run and managed parks. Perhaps that expertise could help Merlin.

From Robert Niles on October 4, 2009 at 9:31 PM gets the award for funniest comment of the weekend!
From on October 5, 2009 at 5:55 AM
David to answer your question about team members from SWF and USF getting into each other's parks for free: this happens as an agreement from the Flex Ticket deal. A Flex ticket is the Universal/ SeaWorld answer to a Disney park hopper-- 1 ticket -6 parks- unlimited admission for a set amount of days. Part of the agreement in tis deal between the two companies was that each park's employees could go to the other parks for free!

I personally believe (and hope) that Merlin's policy is just to appease the radical animal activists in Britain. Also keep in mind that if the deal went through under merlin a great way to get rid of the policy is to change the current management who created the policy (which makes sense to me if we are talking about a 3 to 4 BILLION $ deal)!

From David Sutter on October 5, 2009 at 1:30 PM
Thanks I stand corrected...Oh and just for fun...WESH News just annouced that Blackstone is in a meetting in St. Louis...

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