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Zhonghong Group buys 21% stake in SeaWorld with plans to bring brand to China

Zhonghong Group buys 21% stake in SeaWorld with plans to bring brand to China
April 26, 2017

SeaWorld Entertainments biggest shareholder, Blackstone, is selling its 21% stake in the theme park operator to Chinese investors Zhonghong Zhuoye Group.

The deal, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, includes an agreement that SeaWorld will exclusively advise Zhonghong Group on the design and development of future themed entertainment destinations, including theme parks, waterparks and family entertainment centres, in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Commenting on the deal, SeaWorld Chief Executive Joel Manby stated “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.

“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.”

In early March, Manby said financial discipline was a top priority for the embattled operator, after end of year results saw both revenue and attendance decline on 2015 figures.

The deal will also see two Zhonghong Group executives joining SeaWorld’s board of directors, Yoshikazu Maruyama, President of the firm’s US operations, and Chief Strategy Officer Wang Yongli, who will offer “substantive expertise in global themed entertainment and business development in China”.

Blackstone, who bought into SeaWorld for US$2.3 billion in 2009, is selling to Zhonghong Group at a price of US$23 per share. The New York-based investment firm took SeaWorld Entertainments public in 2013, but has reduced its stake in the years since.

Maruyama stated “we are delighted to engage with SeaWorld to bring this iconic, world-class family entertainment brand to China. SeaWorld’s commitment to inspiring guests to protect animals and our oceans is increasingly relevant to people all around the world.

“Zhonghong Group hopes to contribute our experience and resources in global tourism and project development to enhance long-term value to all of SeaWorld's shareholders. We look forward to a highly collaborative relationship and to serve as a key partner to grow its business and further its mission.”

In January, SeaWorld announced that it was partnering with United Arab Emirates developer Miral to develop a marine theme park on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island (pictured) - the first SeaWorld outside of the USA.

Queensland's Sea World is a separate venuture. 

30th January 2017 - SEAWORLD TO OPEN ON ABU DHABI’S YAS ISLAND

22nd March 2016 - SEAWORLD USA TO MOVE AWAY FROM KILLER WHALE SHOWS

20th November 2015 - IAAPA RECOGNISES ASIAN ATTRACTIONS FOR EXCELLENCE IN HUMAN RESOURCES, ENTERTAINMENT AND MARKETING

27th April 2015 - CHENGDU CUBE OCEANARIUM RECOGNISED WITH TWO GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS 

23rd April 2014 - AQUARIUM AT CHIMELONG OCEAN KINGDOM CONFIRMED AS WORLD’S LARGEST

29th August 2011 - CHINA CURBS THEME PARK PROJECTS 


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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