Seaworld an­nounces plan to go pub­lic

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS -

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.

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