Busch Gardens Tampa and the 10 other SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. theme parks embark into new territory today as their parent company is scheduled to sell stock in the company for the first time.
SeaWorld Entertainment was expected to begin publicly trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SEAS. The assumed initial public offering price would be $25.50 with a proposed maximum of $27, according to a prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The public offering marks a milestone for Busch Gardens Tampa, a diversion Anheuser Busch launched in 1959 in Tampa with a beer hospitality facility that added rides and evolved into one of the top dozen U.S. theme parks in attendance.
Plans for the public offering follow a Belgian brewer’s hostile takeover of Anheuser Busch in 2008 and InBev’s subsequent sale of the theme park properties in 2009 to the world’s largest private equity firm, the Blackstone Group.
Blackstone today boosted the number of shares it’s selling in the IPO to 16 million from 10 million, bringing the total on offer to 26 million, according to Bloomberg News. SeaWorld attendance increased 3.2 percent in 2012 to more than 24 million visitors, according to Bloomberg News.
Blackstone reportedly rejected bids to sell SeaWorld Entertainment and instead is trimming its holdings but retaining majority control in the theme park group.