by admin

NEW YORK CITY — Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has reached an agreement to sell its theme park division to The Blackstone Group for up to $2.7 billion. Under the agreement, Blackstone will purchase Busch Entertainment Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of AB InBev and the second largest theme park operator in the United States. The subsidiary operates 10 parks, including three SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla., San Antonio and San Diego; two Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla., and Williamsburg, Va.; and other entertainment attractions in Orlando, Tampa, Williamsburg and Langhorne, Pa.

The purchase price is comprised of a $2.3 billion cash payment at the time of closing and the right for AB InBev to participate in Blackstone's return on its initial investment, which is capped at $400 million. Acquisition financing is comprised of senior secured credit facilities that will be provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman Sachs Loan Partners and Mizuho Corporate Bank; as well as mezzanine financing that will be provided by Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners and funds managed by GSO Capital Partners.

In a statement, Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev, said, “Busch Entertainment Corp. (BEC) is a high-performing asset with a world-class management team, but not a core business for Anheuser-Busch InBev. We are pleased to have reached an agreement with a buyer who understands the industry and has a strategic vision for the business. The sale of BEC represents another important milestone in our commitment to de-leverage the company and will also allow us to continue to focus on our core brewing business.”

In the same release, Michael Clae, senior managing director of Blackstone, said, “Blackstone sees tremendous opportunity for investing in leading businesses within the media and entertainment industries, where we have significant experience. We are delighted to be investing in a company with such iconic brands, irreplaceable assets and strong growth prospects.”

— Coleman Wood

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