Busch Sale Rumors (Again)

The hits just keep on comin’!

I heard some scuttlebutt from SeaWorld employees that some parks in the portfolio, namely the SeaWorld in Texas and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, had already been sold, at least in principle.

I don’t give much credence to that, if only because news that big would be hard to keep under anyone’s hat, so we’d have heard about it by now.

Way back in July, Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel did a good job of sorting through the “usual suspects,” prime among them Merlin Entertainments of the UK and Parques Reunidos of Spain.

I’d like to propose a dark horse candidate: Nakheel, the developer that is partnering with Busch to recreate the Florida family of theme parks on an artificial, Shamu-shaped island off the coast of Dubai.

Buying Busch’s theme parks might make sense for them or other moneyed interests in the United Arab Emirates. It would, after all, prevent another buyer from backing out of the Dubai deal.

But enough wild-eyed speculation. Kassab has this to say:

Don’t count out the possibility that while InBev considers the theme parks to be secondary to its core brewery business that it eventually decides to hold onto them. Last year Busch Entertainment reported $1.2 billion in sales and $262 million in profit.

After all, it was once widely thought that NBC would shed the Universal parks, but now seems settled on holding on to them.

Good point and one that’s too little mentioned as we all wait to see when the first shoe will drop.

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