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11 Oct 2017

Merlin denies interest in SeaWorld acquisition
BY Tom Anstey

SeaWorld recently unveiled its new Orca Encounter show in San Diego, California

SeaWorld recently unveiled its new Orca Encounter show in San Diego, California
photo: MIKE BLAKE/Reuters/PA Images

Merlin Entertainments has quashed rumours of a possible SeaWorld Entertainments takeover following reports suggesting the operator had made a bid.

A report last week from Bloomberg quoted “people familiar with the matter”, who suggested that the UK operator had made a bid to buy part, or all, of the US company, with the rumours following on from Merlin’s chief financial officer Anne-Francoise Nesmes calling SeaWorld’s assets “interesting”, particularly Busch Gardens.

“We can confirm that Merlin is not involved in any discussions that might lead to an acquisition of SeaWorld or any of its constituent parts,” said Merlin in a statement.

While Merlin is seemingly not interested in SeaWorld, a takeover or partial purchase of the company could still come from elsewhere, with new reports linking Spanish operator Parques Reunidos to a potential takeover of the operator.

SeaWorld has seen its share value drop 25 per cent in 2017 as CEO Joel Manby tries to turn around the company’s public image in the wake of the ongoing backlash from the 2013 documentary Blackfish, where it was alleged to be mistreating its orcas.

The operator currently owns a number of attractions, including its three SeaWorld parks, two Busch Gardens parks, Sesame Place, Discovery Cove and five waterparks.



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