Seaworld announces plan to go public
NEW YORK — Looks like Shamu may soon be making a splash in the stock market.
The company famous for water shows featuring killer whales, dolphins and other animals at SeaWorld said Thursday that it is planning to go public. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has filed for an initial public offering of stock aimed at raising $100 million. That number is likely to change as the company’s bankers gauge interest from investors.
From its origins as a Busch Gardens animal park at Anheuser-Busch’s Tampa Budweiser brewery, the company has grown to span 11 theme parks housing 67,000 animals. Besides the three SeaWorld parks, the company owns two Busch Gardens parks and Sesame Place, an amusement park based on the children’s TV show Sesame Street.
The company warns that its business is dependent on customers’ willingness to spend on leisure and entertainment — which may be a tough proposition in a still-weak U.S. economy.
Still, SeaWorld’s revenue has risen in the three years that it’s been owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP.
Blackstone is expected to sell some of its stock in the IPO but keep a majority stake, SeaWorld said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.