Exclusive: SeaWorld Parks close to filing for an IPO - sources
By Olivia Oran and Greg Roumeliotis
(Reuters) - SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the family entertainment company controlled by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP BX.N, is close to filing for an initial public offering, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld, perhaps best known for its performing killer whale Shamu, has selected Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N and JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N to lead the offering, which could come in early 2013.
SeaWorld may try to raise $500 million to $600 million in the IPO, the sources said.
Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Blackstone and JPMorgan declined to comment.
Blackstone acquired SeaWorld from beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev SA ABI.BR in December 2009 for $2.3 billion, according to Blackstone's website.
SeaWorld owns ten amusement parks including those with the SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place brands. More than 25 million guests visit the parks each year, according to the SeaWorld website.
SeaWorld said in November it had acquired its eleventh park for its Aquatica water park brand in San Diego.
The parks suffered a tragedy in 2010 after a SeaWorld trainer died after a killer whale attack during a water show in Orlando, Florida.
(Reporting by Olivia Oran and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; editing by Leslie Adler, G Crosse)
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