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BUSCH PARKS: BLACKSTONE, now what?


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Seaworld needs to almost go on the offensive similar to McDonalds. 30 second TV spots saying check out "FHFHF.com" to get the real answers. Then its just has the weekly/monthly question being answer

Mine was more as a reason why people dont look things up. Seas should do everything it can to self promote and counter-act the negativity. I said from the beginning that the way this was handled wa

The ironic thing is, the past couple of weeks I've seen two different positive stories about Sea World... Story 1: SeaWorld helps rescue manatees: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-seaworld-

Is Blackstone The Next Disney? The Motley Fool:

...So will Blackstone be the next Disney? No. It can't. All it owns are the parks. Disney's empire includes cable channels, cruise ships, and movie studios, too. Disney's parks provide a profitable way for the family-entertainment giant to market and expand their character properties. This summer's $4 billion deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL) will only help in that regard.

Blackstone isn't as fortunate. It will have to run its theme parks as standalone businesses. Instead of building on proprietary characters outside Sea World's Shamu, it will have to fork over licensing fees to content creators. This is the same reason it didn't make a lot of sense for the character-rich CBS (NYSE: CBS) to sell its Paramount Parks chain to Cedar Fair three years ago. Universal Orlando is going to have a banner year when its Harry Potter attraction opens in 2010, but the real beneficiaries are likely to be movie maker Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and New York publisher Scholastic (Nasdaq: SCHL).

This doesn't necessarily make Blackstone's purchase of Busch Entertainment a bad one. Cedar Fair has run a successful park chain for decades without dabbling in content creation. Blackstone will, however, have to operate its parks as isolated moneymakers. But as long as it continues to invest in new rides and experiences to keep the turnstiles clicking, InBev's loss will surely be Blackstone's gain.

(emphasis added)

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009...ext-disney.aspx

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Wait a minute. You mean to tell me you added an emphasis or two somewhere in your post? Im glad you mentioned it because it was somewhat hard to locate where you had added it.

I do like the last sentence of your quote... "InBev's loss will surely be Blackstone's gain."

I certainly dont profess to know a great deal about Blackstone, however, from what I have read about the organization and its investments, Blackstone seems to be a knowledgeable and trustworthy buyer for these facilities that are ultimately interested in maintaining a high quality product for its consumers to utilize.

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Ok, I held out as long as I could. I have a different perspective on this whole acquisition.

I work for a health care company that was bought by Blackstone about a year ago. Let me tell you, it has not been for the best. We had massive layoffs-I'm talking people who had been with the company 10-15 years as well as newcomers. Our location personally took over business from a closed branch in Indiana. Even though we have increased our business by 1/3, we did not gain extra staff. They cut our staff down so bad, we can barely take care of the patients. You know why? So they can turn a profit. Thats the truth of the matter.

They also outsourced our IT department to India. We had a printer go haywire on Monday. We used to call our central department to handle an issue like that. It took them at most, an hour to resolve the issue. Now, we have to call India. Their English is so bad, the can't even spell ****. The printer crapped out at 9am-by 2 pm, my coworkers were still on the phone with them trying to explain the problem. Their typical answer is it will be resolved within 7-10 days. That is unacceptable in health care, period. I am still trying to decide how wasting 3 coworkers time, 2 of them managers, for the majority of the day-well, how can that be profitable?

I dont know how this is going to affect Busch, but from my standpoint, it has ruined my workplace. Every single one of us is looking for a way out-and we are all so tired from the overtime and stress that we have no life outside of work. I suspect after they've spun our wheels for a few years, they will show a "profit" and we will be sold again. And who says healthcare isn't about money?

One final thought-a big shot is coming in today unannounced and you know what? I hope to hell I get a pink slip....

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In addition to the park interests previously mentioned, Blackstone's resume with travel & tourism is also strengthened by their hotel holdings...they own the Hilton Corp (and its 10 brands), La Quinta, and several other lodging interests.

Windshawne-- I'm sorry to hear that your experience working for a Blackstone-owned company has been so unpleasant. To be honest, I've heard similar stories from former colleagues who now also work for Blackstone interests. :(

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In addition to the park interests previously mentioned, Blackstone's resume with travel & tourism is also strengthened by their hotel holdings...they own the Hilton Corp (and its 10 brands), La Quinta, and several other lodging interests.

Windshawne-- I'm sorry to hear that your experience working for a Blackstone-owned company has been so unpleasant. To be honest, I've heard similar stories from former colleagues who now also work for Blackstone interests. :(

Thank you. Through it all though, I believe it won't be forever. I am working hard towards a different direction :)

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Shamu Deserves A Devoted Owner:

...The buyer this week was Blackstone Group, a New York private equity company. Again, SeaWorld has an owner without theme parks or entertainment as a core competency. Private equity firms essentially do not have cores anyway. They typically buy companies, cut costs, fix up the financial numbers and eventually sell them to someone else for a profit.

Blackstone already has acquired other theme parks that needed financial fixes, such as Universal Orlando Resort.

Once all its parks are on steadier financial footing, Blackstone could sell the whole package to a company with entertainment core competencies. In theory, SeaWorld finally would have a suitable owner.

Let's hope Blackstone knows what it is doing. Cutting costs at SeaWorld parks appears difficult. The new owner cannot exactly give walking papers, say, to the penguins and belugas and keep the orcas, dolphins and sea lions. Cutting jobs won't save much. Young workers don't earn much in the way of salaries.

Raise ticket prices? Cut operating days? Those options seem more like suicide than sensible cost-cutting.

Theme parks need continuity and long-term planning to bring in new attractions. Otherwise, the crowds will dwindle. Changing owners can disrupt planning....

http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/63902202.html

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While I'm happy to see that In-Bev will no longer be in control of the Busch Parks; it really is to early to say how Blackstone will be.

I do know enough that when a company comes in and says, "We're going to retain the management team and to there will not be layoffs," that you had better get your resumes ready.

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The Motley Fool: Blackstone Takes Bud For A Thrill Ride:

...If you're an optimist, the Blackstone deal shows that a powerful player forecasts a bright future for the entertainment industry, and as always, the best time to be a buyer is when everyone is running scared. However, if you're a realist, you'll note that theme-park companies were willing to take a revenue hit in the form of discounts just to keep the visitors coming through the turnstiles. That lack of pricing power bodes ill in an industry with high debt. In any case, Anheuser-Busch InBev is glad to be rid of the parks....

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009...hrill-ride.aspx

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Schwarzman sees big returns in roller coasters:

http://www.reuters.com/article/innovationN...E59H1W220091018

Schwarzman last week explained why he finds the $10 billion industry so appealing.

"There's usually room in the theme parks business for efficiencies on the cost side and new investment, which drives traffic," he said in an interview while attending a conference in Dubai.

"And there's also a cyclical rebound which occurs when an economy goes from a severe recession to a more normal environment."

He said Blackstone examines every opportunity to buy theme parks.

Analysts and consultants say the business is a perfect hunting ground for investors. The cash flow tends to be steady when the economy is in reasonable condition and the high initial cost of building a park creates barriers to entry, allowing parks to retain pricing power.

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From that same article:

...Theme park consultants marveled at the unusually low multiples in the Anheuser-Busch deal, which gives Blackstone ownership of three of the most heavily visited theme parks in the world: two SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Florida, and San Diego, California, and one Busch Gardens park in Tampa, Florida. "They captured it at least $1 billion under market value," said Speigel. "If this deal had gone to market two and a half years ago, it would have been about a 10 times multiple."...

..."It's an industry that isn't growing with new development anymore," said Ray Braun, senior vice president of AECOM ERA, formerly called Economic Research Associates, which was involved in the Blackstone deal. "It's the reshuffling of portfolios."

Other companies could sell parks, potentially at distressed prices, because of high debt levels or the need to shed assets.

For example, Cedar Fair (FUN.N), still grappling with its $1.24 billion purchase of Paramount Parks, said in March that it would put up three of its amusement parks for sale and sell excess land to pay down its debt.

Meanwhile, a battle in bankruptcy court is heating up for ownership of Six Flags, the debt-laden theme park operator that filed for Chapter 11 in June. Under Six Flag's plan, JPMorgan and six hedge funds could wind up with 92 percent of the company, a deal that would be highly lucrative for them, analysts have said.

Consultants widely believe the industry is poised to rebound alongside the economy, which means Blackstone and Six Flags' potential owners could benefit handsomely from their investment....

Terpy's interpretation: Those who bought the Busch parks and those who may buy Six Flags (the company, not the current stock) will buy low and be able to sell high or make much money while Cedar Fair bought at the top of the market and may yet have to sell more parks....

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  • 1 month later...
Deal expected to close today; BEC's president opines about Blackstone, the parks and the future:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os...0,1655400.story

Received the email at work around noon, it is done. BEC is no more, we are now SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. SeaWorld continues to be the signature brand in the portfolio, with SeaWorld Orlando being the flagship park in the chain obviously. Emphasis will continue with the Worlds of Discovery marketing as the Parks continue to create new attractions that connect guests with nature. As I left work last night, it was a little sad to see the Anheuser Busch floral displays being ripped from in front of the Discovery Cove Reception Center and the main entrance to the SeaWorld parking lot. Its the end of an era that truly saw these parks elevated to a new level of standards and quality and turned them into world class destinations. I have a lot of respect for August Busch III who, unlike August IV who cared little for the parks, shared a close connection with them. He is very much a big part of why we now have experiences like Discovery Cove, the fantastic Conservation Fund and programs like Here's To The Heroes! So long, InBev, you most certainly will NOT be missed!

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  • 5 years later...

And more bad news:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-seaworld-ezpay-20141208-story.html

Their legal team has soooooooo much to deal with...

Once again, I am unable to read an Orlando Sentinel story because it is locked behind a paywall. It is not a case of hitting the limit of free articles for the week/month/whatever; it simply cannot be viewed without a premium subscription. Clearing all cookies from that domain does not allow me to view the article (as often works with free article limits).

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^Well, I hate to do it again but:

SeaWorld CEO stepping aside as company announces layoffs

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-seaworld-ceo-20141211-story.html

I met the CEO twice as an intern and I'm ok with him leaving. He was a dick. I'll be sad if/when the great people at Busch Gardens that I know get let go.

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