October 3, 2009

Blackstone may buy Anheuser theme parks

The private equity firm Blackstone Group is negotiating to buy SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and other Anheuser-Busch InBev theme parks, officials said.

As of Friday, the proposed sale price stood at between $2.5 billion to $3 billion, sources close to the negotiations told The New York Times in a story published Saturday.

Anheuser has been expected to sell the theme parks to help pay for the $52 billion Anheuser-Busch InBev merger, The Times reported. Anheuser and Blackstone representatives declined to comment.

Anheuser has said its theme parks business was the second largest in the United States, with 10 parks stretching from Florida to Pennsylvania.

Blackstone owns the Merlin Entertainments Group, a British company with more than 50 properties, and co-owns the Universal Studios Orlando theme park with NBC Universal.

If approved, an Anheuser sale to Blackstone would be one of the largest private equity deals this year.