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- Peter Kinder resigns federal agency post, concludes position unnecessary and waste of tax dollars (6/16/18)1
- Singer Neal Boyd dies after struggle with health issues (6/12/18)1
- Cape man charged with stabbing, killing dog for revenge (6/8/18)9
- Feeding deer in Bollinger, Cape and Perry counties prohibited soon to help curb spread of CWD (6/13/18)7
- Couple charged in beating death at Brick's (6/13/18)
- 'All Nite Skate' filming in Jackson this weekend (6/8/18)
- New Zaxby's restaurant open in Cape (6/13/18)3
- New urban dance studio opens on Broadway (6/15/18)2
Anheuser-Busch InBev sells theme parks for $2.3B
Anheuser-Busch InBev said Wednesday it will sell its theme parks, including the three SeaWorlds and two Busch Gardens across the country, to private equity firm Blackstone Group for at least $2.3 billion.
The world's largest brewer, based in Belgium, has been shedding assets to help pay for the $52 billion takeover of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch that formed the company last year.
The two sides confirmed the deal Wednesday, saying Blackstone will pay $2.3 billion in cash and give Anheuser-Busch InBev the right to up to $400 million of Blackstone's initial returns.
New York-based Blackstone's other investments include Universal Studios Orlando and Madame Tussauds wax museums so the theme parks fit into its portfolio.
Anheuser-Busch InBev's Busch Entertainment Corp. consists of 10 amusement parks, including SeaWorld parks in Florida, Texas and California; Busch Gardens in Florida and Virginia and other parks including Sesame Place and Adventure Island.
It is considered the second-largest entertainment park operator in the U.S. after Walt Disney Co. and has about 25 million visitors a year and 25,000 employees.
Carlos Brito, the brewer's CEO, said in a statement that the business performs well but is not a core focus for Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Blackstone sees opportunity investing in media and entertainment businesses, said Michael Chae, senior managing director at Blackstone.
"We are delighted to be investing in a company with such iconic brands, irreplaceable assets and strong growth prospects," he said.
It's not clear how much the business is worth. According to Anheuser-Busch InBev's annual report from 2008, the entertainment unit had pro-forma revenue of about $1.37 billion. It has not included the unit's quarterly performance in its results this year.
Busch Entertainment CEO Jim Atchison said the company looks forward to growing the business under its new owners, who he said have strong experience in the entertainment industry.
Park guests and employees should expect to see only improvements, he said.
"We're very committed to growth, to maintaining the quality of the parks, the investments of the park," he said.
The brewer of top-selling Bud Light started Busch Gardens in 1959 at the Tampa brewery, Atchison said, first adding animals and eventually a full-fledged theme park.
Atchison said it was bittersweet that Anheuser-Busch would no longer be the company's owner, especially for him because he started his career parking cars at the Tampa Busch Gardens as a teenager.
The unit will add some clerical and other jobs to perform tasks that its parent had covered.
Busch Entertainment will maintain its headquarters in Orlando, Fla., and for now, the Busch name, Atchison said.