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).
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.
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)!