If you ever wanted to own Shamu, now it seems is your chance. After much debate as to sell the company outright or to simply offer an Initial Public Offering of stock, today SeaWorld Entertainment offered its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. According to CNN Money, SeaWorld Entertainment offered 26 million shares of stock at the starting price of $27 a share. At this price SeaWorld would be valued at about $2.5 billion. The sale was backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group who purchased the chain of eleven parks that include SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and assorted water parks throughout the country in 2009. With the sale, the company hopes to pay down its debt.
Before the market opened, SeaWorld brought a few of their favorite animals that they have become known for. Among those walking on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange were a lemur, a penguin and an Otter. After opening, there was no more monkeying around when prices surged 22% in early trading and eventually closing at 24%. Jim Atchison, CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment said, “These animals are the essence of our brand, connecting people to nature, and traders at the center of the capital markets turn into 6 year-olds when they see a penguin walking by. It's amazing.” He continued to say, “Also, to see our company listed and traded is important for our employees. I started at this company as a teenager, and have seen it through a lot of phases. Getting this tremendous response gives me a lot of pride in what we've all done.”
Since the purchase, Blackstone has led the company to increased revenue and profit including $77.5 billion in profit and $1.4 billion in revenue last year.