SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment filed December 27 to publicly sell up to $100 million in shares. The Blackstone Group, who will keep a majority stake, and rename the company SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., currently owns the company. SeaWorld will be traded under the name "SEAS".
Private-equity giant Blackstone Group, which bought SeaWorld in late 2009 for approximately $2.5 billion, would retain a controlling stake in SeaWorld.
The target date for the IPO was not disclosed. SeaWorld said the precise number of shares it will issue and the price range it will charge has not yet been determined. The initial $100 million target could change.
The IPO comes as SeaWorld's finances continue to rebound from the global recession. Operating profit ballooned 34 percent to $229 million through the first nine months of this year, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Total revenue was up 7.6 percent to nearly $1.2 billion during the same period.
The company's 11 U.S. parks drew 19.9 million people through Sept. 30, up 4.3 percent. SeaWorld said its parks have drawn more than 24 million visitors over the last full year period.
A portion of the proceeds from the initial public offering would be used to make a one-time payment to Blackstone, which put down $975 million in cash when it bought SeaWorld from Anheuser-Busch InBev and financed the remainder with debt. The firm also took dividend payments totaling $610 million out of SeaWorld in 2010 and 2011, meaning it has already earned back more than two-thirds of its initial investment.