For the first time in Universal Orlando's history, the resort is now owned by one parent company.
NBCUniversal closed Friday on its deal to buy the half of Universal Orlando that it didn't already own, putting Central Florida's No. 2 theme-park resort in the hands of a single owner for the first time in its 21-year history.
NBCUniversal paid $1.025 billion to the Blackstone Group to purchase the private-equity firm's stake in Universal Orlando, which includes the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks and the CityWalk retail district.
NBCUniversal is a unit of cable-TV giant Comcast Corp.
"This is a very special and positive moment for us," Tom Williams, chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Parks & Resorts, said in a note Friday to Universal Orlando's 16,000 employees. "For the first time ever, we have one owner. Think of it as if we have strengthened our family ties. And that family is a very strong global entertainment company with deep understanding, respect and enthusiasm for our business."
Blackstone had owned a 50 percent share of Universal Orlando since 2001. But it opted to cash out this spring amid a surge in earnings at the resort following last June's opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure.
Williams said the deal ensures "stability and strength" for Universal Orlando, the biggest and most profitable Universal theme park in the world. NBCUniversal also owns Universal Studios Hollywood in Southern California and operates Universal Studios parks in Japan and Singapore.
"Steve Burke, the chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, has complimented our team, our business and our potential for long-term growth," Williams said in his note to employees. "And he has specifically said that today's developments confirm NBCU's long-term commitment to Universal Orlando and the theme park business.
"We believe we will be part of the NBCUniversal family for a very long time," he added.
NBCUniversal said it financed the purchase through a combination of cash on hand; borrowings under an existing credit facility; and a one-year, $250 million loan from another Comcast affiliate.
Following the sale, NBCUniversal said it would take a pair of steps to reduce the borrowing costs on Universal Orlando's roughly $1.5 billion debt load. The media company said it will invest an additional $200 million in the resort, allowing Universal Orlando to pay down a portion of the bonds it is carrying, and loan it another $600 million, allowing Universal Orlando to pay off a credit facility.
source Orlando Sentinel