SeaWorld Plans 2013 IPO

Waterpark franchise profitable, but faces $1.83B debt

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 28, 2012 8:32 AM CST

(Newser) – It could be a whale of a deal. SeaWorld Entertainment has filed the paperwork to go public, three years after being bought for $2.3 billion by Blackstone Group, reports the Wall Street Journal. Media reports vary on what the move is expected to raise, with the Journal citing figures of up to $700 million, and AP pegging the number at just $100 million. Regardless, the funds will allow SeaWorld to reduce its $1.83 billion in debt, reports the New York Post. It plans to trade under the ticker "SEAS" on the Nasdaq.

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 US economy. Still, SeaWorld's revenue has risen in the three years that it's been owned by Blackstone, with profit jumping 73% in the first nine months of 2012 to $86.2 million from $50 million a year earlier. Blackstone will continue to own a majority stake in the company, which operates 11 theme parks housing 67,000 animals around the United States.

In this March 7, 2011, file photo, park guests watch as a killer whale flips out of the water at SeaWorld Orlando's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
In this March 7, 2011, file photo, park guests watch as a killer whale flips out of the water at SeaWorld Orlando's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
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