(Bloomberg) — SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has offered to buy amusement park owner Cedar Fair for around $3.4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.
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SeaWorld made a bid of about $60 per unit in cash for Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The companies are working with advisers on the proposal, the people said.
Deliberations are ongoing, and it’s unclear whether the approach will lead to a transaction, the people said.
Cedar Fair confirmed in a statement that it had received and was reviewing an “unsolicited, non-binding” proposal from SeaWorld. Perella Weinberg Partners LP and Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP are advising Cedar Fair.
A spokesperson for SeaWorld didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cedar Fair rose 9.6% to $54.51 at 11:23 a.m. in New York before trading was halted, giving the company a market value of about $3.1 billion. SeaWorld rose 4.7% to $62.35 at 12:35 p.m., for a market value of about $4.8 billion.
The talks underscore SeaWorld’s bullish outlook on leisure and entertainment as the industry rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, which had sapped tourism demand. The company, which temporarily closed all of its parks in 2020, reported record revenue and profit in the third quarter, as tourists returned to to its stable of 12 destinations, including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Sesame Place.
SeaWorld went public in 2013 under Blackstone Inc.’s ownership and suffered a blow after “Blackfish,” a documentary released that year, accused SeaWorld of mistreating killer whales. Blackstone sold its remaining stake in the company in 2017 to a Chinese leisure company.
The potential deal also indicates that consolidation may be ramping up in the theme park industry, which remains fairly fragmented in the U.S. despite being dominated by a half-dozen major players. SeaWorld and Cedar Fair have both been subject to takeover speculation through the years
Cedar Fair operates 13 amusement properties, including Knott’s Berry Farm in California and Cedar Point in Ohio.
(Updates with statement in fourth paragraph)
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