Chinese company will buy 21% of SeaWorld’s owner

SeaWorld in San Diego (Credit: Yathin S. Krishnappa)
SeaWorld in San Diego (Credit: Yathin S. Krishnappa)

A Chinese company agreed to pay investment firm Blackstone Group about $440 million for 21 percent of the owner of the SeaWorld theme park in Orlando.

Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co., Ltd., will buy Blackstone’s 19 million shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. for $23 per share.

SeaWorld Entertainment’s shares, listed under ticker symbol SEAS, were trading below $18 the day before the Friday announcement of Zhonghong’s planned investment.

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Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment agreed to advise Zhonghong exclusively on the concept and design of theme parks, water parks, and family entertainment centers that Zhonghong would develop and operate.

Under a stockholder agreement, SeaWorld Entertainment would expand its board of directors to 11 members and would appoint two Zhonghong executives to the board.

Zhonghong’s purchase of stock in SeaWorld Entertainment is expected to close by mid-year. After the transaction closes, Blackstone and its affiliates no longer will own stock in SeaWorld Entertainment or have seats on the company’s board.

“Zhonghong Group has a strong track record of performance in the leisure and travel industries, and a solid management team with valuable experience in theme parks, family entertainment, and real estate development in Asia,” Joel Manby, President and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, said in a prepared statement. – Mike Seemuth