April 18, 2013 / 4:27 PM / in 5 years

SeaWorld increases IPO size as shareholders offer more

April 18 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group’s SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment increased the size of its initial public offering to 26 million shares from 20 million, a day before its expected debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

Stockholders will now sell 16 million shares instead of the 10 million they had initially planned, with the company offering the rest. ()

SeaWorld, which is best known for performing killer whale Shamu, said it expects to price its shares at between $24 and $27 each, raising $702 million.

At the higher end of the expected range, the company would be valued at $2.5 billion. Blackstone had acquired SeaWorld from brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev SA in December 2009 for $2.3 billion, according to the private equity firm’s website.

The Orlando, Florida-based company owns 11 theme parks under brands such as SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place, and says it is responsible for more than 67,000 animals.

Blackstone, which also owns a substantial stake in Legoland operator Merlin Entertainments Group, will see its SeaWorld holding come down to about 73.7 percent after the IPO.

Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Securities are the lead underwriters for the offering.

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