Anheuser-Busch was recently gobbled up by Inbev, to make one of the biggest brewers in the world. What has this got to do with Orlando Florida you may ask? Well, along with Inbev getting their hands on the Anheuser-Busch beer brands, they also now own a clutch of theme parks. This article covers the story pretty well, stating that Inbev could get up to $3bn for the sale of the Seaworld and Busch Gardens theme parks. Lets face it with companies finding it difficult to raise cash from banks and theme parks not really being part of the “core” Inbev strategy you can understand why they may want to offload them. It is suggested that Inbev may look to offload the parks as soon as Summer 2009.
So, who would be interested in buying the Seaworld and Busch parks. It has been hinted that Merlin Entertainments Group from the UK would be interested. They have a clutch of parks in the UK including Alton Towers, as well as its Sealife Centres (which are aquariums not theme parks) dotted around Europe. They also own a number of Legoland parks in the US.
What about a counter-bid from the current management of the theme parks, or maybe a direct purchase from the Busch family? We can’t forget Disney and Universal in all of this, but is it likely that the two Orlando giants would be looking to expand at the start of an economic downturn?
From a personal perspective I guess that whoever takes over has a responsibility to maintain the high level of welfare that is shown to the animals in the parks, as well as maintaining the conservation work that is carried out by the Seaworld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.