SeaWorld IPO Goes Swimmingly

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The initial public offering (IPO) of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) went off this morning at the high end of the $24 to $27 expected price range. The theme park operator sold 26 million shares, not including any underwriters’ overallotment.

Private equity firm Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) was the sole owner of SeaWorld and will maintain a stake of about 72% after the IPO. Of the shares on offer, 10 million are being offered by SeaWorld and 16 million by Blackstone.

The IPO will raise $702 million, far above the $100 million expected when the IPO was first announced in December. SeaWorld will receive net proceeds of approximately $245.4 million, and it intends to use the funds to redeem $140 million in senior notes. Another $47 million will be paid out to Blackstone to terminate a 2009 advisory agreement, and the rest will be applied to other debt.

Shares opened at $30.56 and are trading at about $30.70 in the first half hour of this morning’s session, up 13.7% above the offering price.

The company’s full filing is available here.