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SeaWorld plans IPO but offers few details

SeaWorld hopes to raise $100 million but did not give such details as how many shares will be offered or the expected share price.

December 27, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • SeaWorld orca trainer Robbin Sheets rehearses with Shamu in San Diego in 2006.
SeaWorld orca trainer Robbin Sheets rehearses with Shamu in San Diego in… (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles…)

There is something fishy about this IPO.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. and its killer whales are going public, filing for an initial public offering that could raise $100 million.

The theme park company, famous for using the orca Shamu as a performer, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it hopes to trade under the ticker symbol SEAS.

But it didn't say much else — not what exchange would host its stock, how many shares will be up for grabs, the expected share price or when they'll be offered.

The Orlando, Fla., company — whose 11 theme parks include the Busch Gardens parks on the East Coast and three SeaWorld centers in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio — is owned by Blackstone Group. The company's collection includes about 67,000 marine and terrestrial animals.

SeaWorld said it plans to use the IPO to repay debt and make a payment to Blackstone. The investment firm bought SeaWorld from Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2009 in a multibillion-dollar purchase.

Blackstone also owns a substantial stake in Legoland and Madame Tussauds parent Merlin Entertainments Group.

In the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, SeaWorld's parks drew 24 million visitors, according to the SEC filing. The properties include five of the top 20 theme parks in the U.S. in terms of attendance.

The company pulled in $1.2 billion in revenue in the first nine months of the year.

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