Blackstone Group LP (BX:US) is moving ahead with the initial public offering of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (SEAS:US) as soon as this month after rejecting takeover bids for the theme-park operator, said a person familiar with the matter.
Blackstone will probably begin marketing the sale to investors in the last two weeks of April, said the person, who asked not to be named as the process is private. Apollo Global Management LLC (APO:US) and Onex Corp. each made bids for Orlando-based SeaWorld, people with knowledge of the matter said in February.
The IPO would be at least the second for a Blackstone portfolio company this year as the world’s largest buyout firm takes advantage of investor optimism, which has buoyed equity markets to record highs. Blackstone peers such as Apollo, Carlyle Group LP and Warburg Pincus LLC also are readying holdings for public debuts as they begin to exit some of their biggest investments.
Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for New York-based Blackstone, declined to comment, as did Charles Zehren, a spokesman for Apollo at Rubenstein Associates Inc. A representative at Toronto-based Onex didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
SeaWorld filed for a U.S. IPO last year using a placeholder amount of $100 million, filings show. The company may raise $500 million in the offering, people familiar with the matter said in December. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are leading the sale.
IPOs in the U.S. raised $8.9 billion from the beginning of 2013 through March, 44 percent more than a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as record highs in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index spurred companies and their owners to sell new shares.
U.S. initial offers this year have handed buyers an average gain of 23 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s compelled companies such as Warburg Pincus’s Bausch & Lomb Holdings Inc., Madison Dearborn Partners LLC’s CDW Corp. and Bain Capital LLC and TPG Capital’s Quintiles Transnational Holdings Inc. to file IPO plans since January.
Blackstone took control of SeaWorld after agreeing in 2009 to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s (ABI) amusement-park business in a deal then valued at as much as $2.7 billion. The company operates almost a dozen amusement parks in states such as Florida, California and Texas and competes with Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US) and Six Flags Entertainment Corp. (SIX:US)
Six Flags trades at about 13.6 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the 12 months through December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s also the median of a basket of comparable SeaWorld peers, data compiled by Bloomberg show. If SeaWorld were valued at the same rate, it would have an enterprise value of about $5.36 billion.
Revenue at SeaWorld has swelled 19 percent since 2010 to $1.42 billion after attendance climbed and the average amount customers spent rose. Capital expenditures have grown too, climbing 60 percent over the same period as SeaWorld revamped parks and added attractions such as Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. SeaWorld’s capital spending is equal to about 49 percent of its Ebitda. That compares with about 28 percent for Grand Prairie, Texas-based Six Flags.
Blackstone recouped some of its initial investment in SeaWorld, as the theme-park operator paid out a $500 million special dividend to its owners last year, filings show. Blackstone expects an IPO to yield better returns over time than a possible sale, said one person.
The buyout firm has already benefited from an offering last month for Pinnacle Foods Inc. (PF:US), the maker of Hungry-Man dinners and Duncan Hines cake mix. The Parsippany, New Jersey-based company sold shares at the top of the proposed price range on March 27 and had surged 17 percent from its debut level through yesterday.
Fellow buyout firms are looking to duplicate that success. New York-based Apollo’s Evertec LLC, which offers transaction- processing services in Latin America and the Caribbean, is scheduled to price its IPO April 11, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Bausch & Lomb filed for an IPO March 22 after efforts to sell the company privately were said to falter.
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