Blackstone to Sell 21 Percent Stake in SeaWorld for $429m to China’s Zhonghong

Blackstone Group LP is to sell its entire 21 percent equity stake in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. to China’s Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co., making the Chinese company SeaWorld’s biggest shareholder.

Zhonghong has agreed to pay Blackstone $23 a share, a 33 percent premium to SeaWorld’s closing price of $17.31 Thursday.

The total value of the shares would be valued at $429.1 million based on 88,835,076 shares outstanding, according to Bloomberg data.

SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby, said in a statement, “Zhonghong Group is making a significant, long-term investment in SeaWorld, reflecting their appreciation of the strength of our brand, our potential to grow the company and a shared commitment to protect wildlife and the environment.”

There will be changes to SeaWorld’s board as a result of the transaction.  Blackstone will no longer hold any shares or a place on the board, and Zhonghong will get two places on an expanded board of 11.

Under the agreement, reports Bloomberg, Zhonghong won’t be able to sell its stakes for two years, and must get the approval of independent directors to buy more than 24.9 percent of the remaining shares.

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