The British owner of Legoland theme parks made a bid to acquire part of Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. U.K.-based Merlin Entertainments may want to buy SeaWorld’s Busch Gardens theme parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Tampa. Representatives of both companies declined to comment. SunTrust analyst Michael Swartz said in August that SeaWorld could sell its Busch Gardens properties for as much as $1 billion and invest the proceeds in its aquatic theme parks, its core properties, including the SeaWorld park in Orlando.
On an Aug. 4 conference call, the chief financial officer of the publicly held British company, Anne-Francoise Nesmes, called the Busch Gardens parks “good-quality assets that we would be interested [in]. But it takes two parties to do a deal.” The largest shareholder of SeaWorld is China-based Zhonghong Group, which bought 21 percent of publicly held SeaWorld in March from private equity firm Blackstone Group. [Orlando Sentinel] — Mike Seemuth