Blackstone to Acquire 65 Percent Stake in Great Wolf Resorts, Form $2.9B JV With Centerbridge

by Kristin Harlow

CHICAGO AND NEW YORK CITY — Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX, an affiliate of Blackstone (NYSE: BX), is acquiring a 65 percent controlling interest in Great Wolf Resorts Inc. Although the specific price of the investment was not disclosed, Blackstone and existing owner Centerbridge Partners LP will form a new $2.9 billion joint venture to own the company.

Chicago-based based Great Wolf is an owner and operator of family-oriented entertainment resorts, with 18 locations around the country. Each lodge contains a full-service hotel, indoor waterpark, recreational activities and various food and beverage offerings. A new resort in Northern California is slated to open next year.

“Great Wolf has enriched the guest experience and opened seven new lodges since 2015,” says Tyler Henritze, head of U.S. acquisitions for Blackstone. “We look forward to investing in these properties to further deliver for guests and grow the company.”

Murray Hennessy, CEO of Great Wolf, says that the company stands to benefit greatly from Blackstone’s insights and expertise in hospitality.

The sale comes at a time when theme park companies are benefitting from higher consumer spending on travel and leisure, according to Bloomberg. Blackstone has previously invested in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. and helped buy the owner of Legoland theme parks in June.

Blackstone’s real estate business was founded in 1991 in New York and has $154 billion of investor capital under management. It is one of the largest property owners in the world, owning and operating assets across every major property type. Blackstone’s stock price closed at $47.14 per share on Tuesday, Oct. 1, up from $37.69 one year ago.

Centerbridge is a private investment management firm. Founded in 2005, the firm has approximately $27 billion in capital under management with offices in New York and London. The company originally acquired Great Wolf from Apollo Global Management in 2015 for $1.35 billion.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. are serving as financial advisors to Great Wolf. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is the legal counsel for Great Wolf. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLC is the legal counsel for Blackstone.

— Kristin Hiller

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