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New Owner for Busch Parks?

Sea World Orlando: With time running out, who will the new owner be?

From Gareth H
Posted August 15, 2009 at 8:00 AM
With the tough economy, many parks profits down, including the Busch chain and a general lack of financing available, who will be the new owner of the Busch Parks be?

Well apparently the Busch Family had a clause written into the "Takeover" of of the Budweiser company.

If the parks were not sold by November 2009, the Busch Entertainment Group got the rights to buy back the parks at a heavily reduced rate.

With November fast approaching, and no news of any interest, does this mean Seaworld, Busch Gardnes and Sesame Place may go back to the original owners, and ultimately original quality we were all used to?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Adam Nodjomian
Posted August 15, 2009 at 8:55 AM
I sure hope Busch buys it back. Hopefully, if they must replace Big Bad Wolf, Busch will make it amazing.

From Andrew Holden
Posted August 15, 2009 at 9:16 AM
November cant come fast enough,
long live BEC!

From Jason Jackson
Posted August 15, 2009 at 12:16 PM
Is this the Busch family or the Busch Entertainment Corporation which is a fully owned subsidary of AB-InBev?

From Andrew Holden
Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:07 AM
I think that the Busch Entertainment group is owned by the Busch family since it would make no sense what so ever for a company to buy something it already owns for a highly reduced cost.

From Nick Markham
Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:37 AM
Actually, the Busch family does not own Busch Entertainmnet. They put out an offer to buy it, but it was rejected as it was lower than the 7 billion dollar price. In the end, I think part of it will be divided up.

I see Sea World San Diego going to Disney, as they want it for a Disney Cruise port. Then I see Universal comming out with Sea World Orlando, Discovery Cove, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Africa, Busch Gardens Europe, and both of their water parks while Merlin takes over Seseme Place.

that just leaves Sea world san antonio, but who knows who will buy there...

From Adam Nodjomian
Posted August 16, 2009 at 2:25 PM
Please Busch buy back your parks!
Bring them back to their former glory!

From Andrew Holden
Posted August 17, 2009 at 4:52 AM
I REALLY hope that doesnt happen, Nick. Like I said, November cant come fast enough.

From Raul Araoz
Posted August 17, 2009 at 8:00 AM
Screamscape says that Blackstone execs have been seen around Sea World Orlando. So, they are back in the mix.

From David Graham
Posted August 17, 2009 at 7:42 PM
Should be interesting in the next few months to see what happens... Will it be Disney with some, the Great Busch family, with a partner? Blackstone? or someone out of the blue... Either way can't be any worse than where it will go if it stays Inbev...

From Daniel Williams
Posted August 18, 2009 at 10:22 AM
Does anyone have a link that talks about the Nov '09 clause? I've not heard it about that from a media outlet of any kind?

From Gareth H
Posted August 18, 2009 at 11:10 AM
Dan, I got this from a staff insider, who will remain nameless ;)

Reliable too, most of the Seaworld info I've posted has been 100% accurate, same source!

From Jason Jackson
Posted August 18, 2009 at 8:44 PM
The latest rumor is that Blackstone may be making a serious bid, with the blessing of NBC/Universal, so we will have to see.

From Robert Niles
Posted August 18, 2009 at 10:05 PM
Blackstone almost always has a partner when it goes to a dance. Just throwing this out there... but what's to keep the Busch family from being that partner, working with Blackstone capital to regain an interest in their former parks?

Heck, a three-way deal that gave NBC/Uni a taste in exchange for inclusion in UO multi-day ticket packages and advertising could work well for everyone. Plus, it could lead to exposure for NBC properties in San Diego, Tampa, San Antonio and Williamsburg, as well as more exposure for SeaWorld in LA.

From David Graham
Posted August 19, 2009 at 6:23 AM
We can only hope that it happens like that Robert, then even we win cause the parks will HOPEFULLY keep the same standards the Busch family has given to those parks.

From tilikum shamu
Posted August 23, 2009 at 11:39 AM
Anybody hear any more on this?

From David Graham
Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:21 PM
Had just shut off computer when I saw this report on our local news 13 and had to fire back up to posst on it. Blackstone "should" announce tomorrow they bought BEC. Here is a link with our Mr. Niles being quoted in it.

http://www.cfnews13.com/Business/LocalBusinessHeadlines/2009/9/22/seaworld_sold.html

From Bruce Lane
Posted September 22, 2009 at 9:20 PM
Quoting from the news article...

"Blackstone is pretty much been a hands off type of investor,” said Dr. Duncan Dickson from the University of Central Florida. “They are ruthless when it comes to their bottom line. They just want their bottom line..."

I don't understand how any investor can be classed as "hands off," yet be "ruthless when it comes to their bottom line." The two do not go together, at least not in my head.

My past observations have been that, when you have a bottom line-obsessed investor running a place, there will be lots of micromanaging, probably a lot more than should be happening. Worse, the investment group will sometimes mandate the installation of silly things which, though they may be pleasing to said investors, have nothing at all to do with the park's overall theme or mission.

If this is indeed what's going to happen, it'll probably be like a flashback to the days when HBJ owned the Sea World parks. Don't get me started...

From TH Creative
Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:15 AM
How do you micromanage a killer whale?

From Bruce Lane
Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:28 AM
That's exactly my point! ;-)

Blackstone obviously has tons of experience running theme parks, and I can see they've apparently had lots of success in that arena. I can respect that.

Sea World, despite the addition of superfluous thrill-rides and their circus-type shows, is still at its core an oceanarium, or aquatic zoo if you prefer.

Blackstone, to the best of my knowledge, has no experience whatsoever running any type of zoological park. Busch, at least, had the benefit of running mini-zoos out of Busch Gardens, so they obviously did pretty well taking care of Sea World but Blackstone is a huge question mark in that area.

I don't like huge question marks where animal welfare is a factor. While it may not be possible (or advisable) to try and micromanage animals, it is all too possible (and, unfortunately, easy) to micromanage those responsible for their care and feeding.

This is what I'm most concerned about. No matter how much I may disagree with Sea World's overall practices, I have yet to doubt their ability to provide the best in physical care for their animal population.

I would feel a lot better if Blackstone would come right out and say they won't mess with any of that AND live up to such a statement.

Happy travels.

From Justin Trinh
Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:29 AM
Blackstone itself has no experience with animals but they do however owned Merlin Entertainment which runs 27 Sea-Life aquariums.

A few months back, it was reported that Merlin was readying an IPO so it could be that maybe Blackstone wants to merge Busch Entertainment with Merlin Entertainment.

However if Busch was kept separate from Merlin, I personally don't think Blackstone would be running the place. They would just be the financial backing as they would probably leave what SeaWorld does well to itself. Of course that is my opinion.

From David Graham
Posted September 23, 2009 at 6:37 PM
Can we insert the Busch Family here?

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