Photographer: Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images

Spain’s Parques Reunidos Explores Purchase of SeaWorld

  • Spanish theme-park operator is said to weigh combination
  • SeaWorld is said to work with advisers to explore options

Spanish theme-park operator Parques Reunidos Servicios Centrales SA is among the potential buyers of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., people familiar with the matter said.

The Madrid-based company, which operates more than 60 attractions around the world, is considering a combination with SeaWorld, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

A representative of Parques Reunidos declined to comment, and Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Shares of SeaWorld rose 3.6 percent in pre-market trading Tuesday, giving the company a market value of $1.3 billion. Parques Reunidos has a market value of about $1.25 billion.

SeaWorld is working with advisers to explore options including a sale, people with knowledge of the process said last week. The company went public in 2013 under Blackstone Group LP’s ownership and suffered a blow after “Blackfish,” a documentary released that year, accused SeaWorld of mistreating its killer whales. Attendance suffered at the company’s parks and SeaWorld replaced much of its management and board.

U.K. theme-park operator Merlin Entertainments Plc has approached SeaWorld about a potential deal for part of the company, the people said last week.

Parques Reunidos is backed by Belgian financier Albert Frere’s investment company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA, which acquired more than 15 percent of Parques Reunidos in April.

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