SeaWorld Entertainment files documents to sell public stock

$100M IPO filed, according to documents

ORLANDO, Fla. - SeaWorld Entertainment has filed documents to sell public stock in the United States, according to a SeaWorld release.

The S-1 registration statement was filed on Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission to a proposed initial public offering of common stock by SeaWorld and certain selling security holders, according to the release.

The initial public offering of stock could raise $100 million. That number is likely to change as the company's bankers gauge interest from investors.

Private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, which owns SeaWorld, will likely sell some of its stake in the deal, but will still own a majority of the voting power of the company's shares after the IPO, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Blackstone bought SeaWorld back in 2009 and will "continue to own a majority of the voting power," meaning it will still have most of the control, according to the 200-page document.

SeaWorld says it would plan to repay debt to Blackstone and other business activities with the money raised by the IPO, the document states. The boost in funds could help the park invest in more park additions, launch a bigger marketing campaign and increase its size and employee base--depending on how the IPO is structured.

The registration statement hasn't become effective, meaning no securities can be sold. Officials haven't said when the statement will become effective.

Dean of UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Doctor Abraham Pizam, weighed in, "Does it make any difference? Really?"

It is exactly what Local 6 wanted to know.

Dr. Pizam said, "I think for the average Joe, they wouldn't notice it."

SeaWorld tells Local 6 that the number of shares and price range for offering hasn't been determined. Dr. Pizam said, "In terms of operation right here, it wouldn't change a bit."

That is because, according to the almost 200 page paperwork, The Blackstone Group, the parent company since 2009, still has most of the control.

Dr. Pizam said, "Well, there may be a little bit more transparency since now it becomes a public company and there would be an interest to the public to find out what is going on."

In the filing, SeaWorld says it plans to spend the extra income to repay debt to Blackstone and other business activities.

If it decides to invest in the theme parks, this is where central Florida could benefit. It could mean expansions, new additions, and new hires.

Dr. Pizam said, "Because for the last 6 months, Disney and Universal have announced changes and additions and SeaWorld cannot be far behind it."

Bottom line, "Don't expect any immediate changes. If there was no announcement, people both working for the company as well as the visitors would not even notice," said Dr. Pizam.

No word on a timeline as far as when this will actually take place. SeaWorld would not discuss the announcement. The company intends to offer its public shares under the stock symbol "SEAS".

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.