Blackstone-backed SeaWorld's IPO priced at $27/share -underwriter

April 18 Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:47pm EDT

April 18 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP's SeaWorld Entertainment Inc priced its initial public offering of 26 million shares at $27 per share, the top end of its planned price range, according to an underwriter.

Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld's IPO raised $702 million and valued the theme-park operator at slightly over $2.5 billion.

The company sold 10 million shares in the offering, with Blackstone selling the remaining 16 million. The IPO was increased earlier on Thursday after SeaWorld filed to boost Blackstone's portion of the share sale.

The shares were expected to be sold at between $24 and $27 each.

Blackstone acquired SeaWorld from brewer Anheuser Busch InBev SA in December 2009 for $2.3 billion, according to the private equity firm's website.

Shares of SeaWorld are expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "SEAS" on Friday.

Goldman Sachs & Co and JP Morgan were the lead underwriters for the offering.