Adding insult to injury the owners of the terrible Six Flags will now put the final nail in the coffin of all Busch Theme Parks.
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Anheuser-Busch InBev said Wednesday (10/07/2009) that it will sell its entertainment business, including theme parks like Sea World and Busch Gardens, to the Blackstone Group for as much as $2.7 billion.
The final purchase price will involve a cash payment of $2.3 billion on closing and the right to participate in Blackstone’s returns that is capped at $400 million.
For that, Blackstone /quotes/comstock/13*!bx/quotes/nls/bx (BX 14.51, -0.02, -0.14%) gets Anheuser-Busch InBev’s /quotes/comstock/13*!bud/quotes/nls/bud (BUD 46.80, +0.14, +0.30%) subsidiary Busch Entertainment Corp., which operates 10 amusement parks in the U.S.
The move to sell the parks has been anticipated since InBev swallowed up the American brewer last year, ballooning its balance sheet with billions in additional debt.
While Carlos Brito, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said the parks are “a high-performing asset,” they are not “a core business for Anheuser-Busch InBev.”
He added that the sale is “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.”
Blackstone will finance the acquisition via senior secured credit facilities and debt provided by Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd.
The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) — already a 50% owner of Universal Orlando, which competes head-to-head with just down the road Walt Disney World — is gearing up to greatly increase its footprint in Central Florida. According to the Disney Blog: “Apparently high ranking officials from Blackstone have been seen walking around SeaWorld.”
Busch Entertainment Co.’s theme parks include:
* Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa, Fla.)
* Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Va.)
* SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Fla.)
* SeaWorld San Antonio (San Antonio)
* SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego)
* Discovery Cove (Orlando, Fla.)
* Aquatica (Orlando, Fla.)
* Adventure Island (Tampa, Fla.)
* Water Country USA (Williamsburg, Va.)
* Sesame Place (Langhorne, Pa.)
Additionally, Blackstone’s Merlin Entertainments Group has stakes in Six Flags Inc., Legoland theme parks and Madame Tussauds.
Blackstone and Universal Studios Inc. co-owner NBC Universal Inc. are already making major moves in the central Florida theme park market. Although it is staring down the barrel of $950 million in debt that needs to be refinanced by April 2010, Universal Studios is making major upgrades to its two Florida parks: Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure.
The Universal Studios park unveiled a new headliner coaster this summer, expecting to draw crowds away from cross-town rival Walt Disney World. But it’s on 2010 that the company has bet the farm, when Universal plans to open in Islands of Adventure a new 20-acre “Wizarding World”-themed land based on the immensely popular Harry Potter books and movies.
While an all-out war for theme park dominance may be a dream come true for central Florida tourists and businesses, there are a number of things that could prevent any such thing from happening. Blackstone Group has for the most part been a passive owner in the Universal parks, allowing partner NBC Universal to primarily run them. Additionally, the private equity firm partnership with NBC reportedly bans it from owning competing parks in central Florida. One can imagine that NBC Universal’s parent General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) would not welcome ramped-up competition to its own parks from its erstwhile partner.
Well, my site here has become quite popular in the last year. Many people are becoming more aware that corporations are controlling their lives and compromising their health. As you have all probably surmised by now, this site is just not about free beer! Fast food, corporate farms and profit margins are feeding this country, whether you care to accept that or not.
As far as beer goes, personally, I really like Yuengling. Yuengling is the oldest brewery in the U.S.. I like Harp and Sam Adams as well. I still have not touched anything distributed by AB / InBev since the buy out. Additionally, I have stuck to my guns and have not eaten fast food for many years now.
I have and will continue to walk out of a bar or restaurant, family owned or not, if they only serve Anheuser Busch / InBev distributed products. I make sure my opinion is loud and verbose on the way out. Often I see overweight kids walking down the street with fast food bags in their hands. I enjoy expressing my opinion personally or even broadcast from a moving vehicle. Whether raising eyebrows or tempers, awareness is half the battle.
A recent 10 state, off the beaten path road trip I took with my son from Ohio to Florida verified a simple fact. The fewer the fast food restaurants in a town, the healthier the people are! Imagine that! Yes, it is your choice! I choose to drink beer even though it may not be the best thing for my health but, even that, in moderation is far less of a health risk that fast food in moderation.
Watch Farm Aid! Become inspired to become healthier! Hang up and THINK!
Watch These Videos! Neil Young and Dave Matthews talk about how important family farms are and how corporations are destroying our environment.
Did you know that federal aid earmarked for “farmers” only goes to huge corporate farms?
Have you ever toured a corporate operated beef plant and slaughter house?
Did you know that our health care system is in shambles due to the typical American diet?
Did you know that when you eat fast food you are part of the problem?
Did you know you can actually help and make a difference by just changing your eating habits?
Please visit the links below AND BE PREPARED TO BE STARTLED!
Pope John said it best, “Capitalism Without Responsibility”
Fast Food’s Hidden Dangers
Jeffrey Zurlinden, RN, MS
Every day, about one-quarter of American adults eat at fast-food restaurants. Cheap, tasty, and convenient, fast food is loaded with saturated fat and calories, and it’s low in fiber and nutrients. Thanks in large part to fast food, half of America’s adults and one-quarter of its children are obese, double the rate of a generation ago. Even some popular chicken nuggets, which many consumers consider a healthier alternative, are flavored with beef extract and contain twice as much fat, ounce for ounce, as a hamburger.
Besides the long-term health risks of a high-fat, high-calorie diet, fast-food chains have indirectly changed the way cattle are fed, slaughtered, and processed, making meatpacking the most dangerous job in America and increasing the risk of large-scale food poisoning. In his new book, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eric Schlosser describes fast food’s hidden dangers.
A Lifetime of Fast Food
Although most of the health problems related to fast food aren’t felt until middle age — obesity and diabetes are at an all-time high — the damage starts before children enter kindergarten. Hoping to shape eating habits, fast-food chains market heavily to children. About 96% of American school-aged children recognize Ronald McDonald, second only to Santa Claus. Almost every American child eats at a McDonald’s® at least once a month.
Fast food runs on cheap labor, usually supplied by teenagers. Child labor laws that restrict work schedules are often ignored at fast-food chains. Although part-time employment can teach teenagers responsibility, teenage boys who work long hours are more likely to abuse drugs and get into trouhle. They also risk getting hurt: Each year about 20,000 teenagers suffer work-related injuries, about twice the adult rate.
Meatpacking Factories: Injuries and Food Poisoning
To keep meat prices low, most slaughterhouses have moved out of big cities and into small towns. Instead of hiring skilled, unionized workers, meatpacking plants frequently recruit recent immigrants who are willing to work hard for low pay on assembly lines that turn living cattle into frozen hamburger at record speed. To keep up the pace, plant workers often abuse methamphetamine. Meatpacking has become the most hazardous occupation in the US, with three times the injury rate of factory work. Each year, at least one-third of all meatpackers are injured on the job.
Concentrating cattle into large feedlots and herding them through processing assembly lines operated by poorly trained employees increase the risk of large-scale food poisoning. Manure gets mixed with meat, contaminating it with salmonella and Escherichia coli 0157:H7. Schlosser reports a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) study that found 78.6% of ground beef contained microbes spread primarily by fecal material. Because of current processing methods, each contaminated carcass is distributed to a large number of people. The typical frozen hamburger that is used in fast-food restaurants contains meat from dozens or hundreds of cattle, multiplying the risk of food poisoning.
E. coli 0157:H7 is one of the worst forms of food poisoning. Usually spread through undercooked hamburgers, it’s difficult to treat. Although antibiotics kill the bacteria, they release a toxin that produces dreadful complications. About 4% of people infected with E. coli 0157:H7 develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, and about 5% of children who develop the syndrome die. E. coli 0157:H7 has become the leading cause of renal failure among American kids.
Meat also can become poisoned as it’s processed into hot dogs or bologna. The US Food and Drug Administration and the USDA recently warned that children under six and pregnant women should avoid hot dogs and sandwich meats unless they’re thoroughly cooked, due to the risk of Listeria monocytogenes infection. Once mixed into food, L. monocytogenes continues to multiply, despite refrigeration. Usually, it causes mild flu-like symptoms, but it can turn deadly in young children. Pregnant women are 20 times more susceptible to infection, which may lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. Each year, L. monocytogenes causes 2,500 serious illnesses and 500 deaths. As food processing is concentrated among fewer and fewer facilities, large-scale contamination becomes more likely. Last year, for example, agricultural giant Cargill recalled almost 17 million pounds of processed poultry products due to the risk of L. monocytogenes.
Jeffrey Zurlinden, RN, MS, is a Nursing Spectrum contributing writer.
Kilman S. Listeria outbreak in Cargill turkey poses problems for meat industry. Wall Street Journal. December 20, 2000:84.
Kulman 1. Pregnant women get no bologna — or shark or brie. U.S. News & World Report. 2001; 1 30(4}:52.
Accessed March 12, 2001.
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