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SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS) Pops After Blackstone Stake Sale

SEAS stock jumps about 5% as a Chinese company buys out Blackstone's 21% stake.

On Friday, shares of SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS) popped about 5% after private asset management firm Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) announced it sold its majority stake in the marine park operator.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS) Pops After Blackstone Stake Sale

Blackstone is selling its 21% stake to Zhonghong Group — a Chinese leisure, real estate, and travel company — for $23 per share of SEAS stock, which represents a premium of nearly 33% to the stock’s close on Thursday. In total, Zhonghong Group is set to pay about $448.5 million, according to Fortune.

“Zhonghong Group has a strong track record of performance in the leisure and travel industries, and a solid management team with valuable experience in theme parks, family entertainment, and real estate development in Asia,” Joel Manby, President and CEO of SeaWorld entertainment, said in a statement.

Blackstone originally purchased its stake in SeaWorld — it paid $2.3 billion back in 2009 — but the group has slowly been reducing its stake since SEAS stock first started sinking in 2013, not long after Blackfish premiered, a documentary that sparked widespread criticism and controversy over SeaWorld’s killer whale program.

And according to CNBC, SeaWorld will provide support and advisory services for theme parks, water parks, and family entertainment centers in development in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, all of which would be operated by Zhonghong Holding, an affiliate of Zhonghong Group.

Blackstone will no longer have any interests or board seats at SeaWorld, and the deal is set to close in the second quarter of 2017.

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