Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) said Wednesday it reached a definitive agreement to sell its entertainment business to private equity firm Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) for up to $2.7 billion.
The two sides confirmed the deal, ending weeks of speculation about Blackstone buying the brewer’s theme parks.
Under the terms of the agreement, Blackstone will acquire Anheuser-Busch InBev’s subsidiary, Busch Entertainment Corp. The purchase price will be comprised of a cash payment on closing of $2.3 billion and a right of InBev to participate in Blackstone’s return on its initial investment capped at $ 400 million. Busch Entertainment Corp. is considered the second-largest entertainment park operator in the U.S. after Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) with 25 million annual visitors.
InBev owns 10 entertainment parks, including three SeaWorlds, two Busch Gardens and other parks across the country, including Sesame Place and Adventure Island.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer based in Belgium, has been shedding assets to help pay for its $52 billion buyout of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch that formed the company last year.
InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito said Busch Entertainment was a “high-performing asset with a world-class management team, but not a core business for Anheuser-Busch InBev.”
“The sale of BEC represents another important milestone in our commitment to de-leverage the company and will also allow us to continue to focus on our core brewing business,” Brito said in a statement.
Michael Chae, senior managing director at Blackstone said his co. was “delighted to be investing in a company with such iconic brands, irreplaceable assets and strong growth prospects.”