Merlin said to have approached SeaWorld over possible deal

Merlin said to have approached SeaWorld over possible deal”

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEA) saw its shares jump 6% in pre-market NY trading after press reports said UK-listed theme parks operator Merlin Entertainments PLC (LON:MERL) has approached the marine park operator about a potential deal.

Merlin, which runs Legoland parks worldwide and owns Madame Tussauds, has made a bid for part of SeaWorld, but SeaWorld's preference is to sell itself whole, the source said.

According to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index, Merlin Entertainments is the world's second-largest theme park company by attendance, following Disney. SeaWorld owns six theme parks: the three SeaWorld parks, in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego, the two Busch Gardens parks in Williamsburg, Va. and Tampa, and the Sesame Place park outside of Philadelphia.

SeaWorld is already working with bankers on a possible sale and Merlin is not the only possible buyer to approach the company, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said representatives for both Merlin and SeaWorld declined to comment.

SeaWorld shares rose 4.7 percent in regular trading, to $14.11 - and increased to $14.80 after hours - but investors hoping for a further pop may be disappointed.

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