Shanghai-based investment company, Zhonghong Group is to acquire a 21% stake in SeaWorld from private equity firm Blackstone.
Zhonghong Group, a financial holding company focused on strategic growth opportunities in the leisure, tourism, and culture industries, will now work with SeaWorld on the concept development and design of theme parks, water parks and family entertainment centers to be developed and operated by Zhonghong, including exclusive rights in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc said; “Zhonghong Group is making a significant, long-term investment in SeaWorld, reflecting their appreciation of the strength of our brand, our potential to grow the company and a shared commitment to protect wildlife and the environment.”
Financial uncertainty and public outcry against the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity have plagued SeaWorld in recent years. The company announced last year that it would end the breeding of orcas in captivity.
However, despite this change in public opinion against captivity, China continues to dramatically increase the number of captivity facilities and has decided to launch a new orca breeding facility in Chimelong, all of which casts a worrying shadow over this new financial deal involving SeaWorld.