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Theme park owner SeaWorld files to go public with $100 million IPO

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Looks like Shamu may soon be making a splash in the stock market.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. on Thursday filed for an initial public offering of stock that 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 from beer brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2009 in a deal worth at least $2.3 billion.

The Orlando, Fla., company plans to use money from the IPO to pay debt and make a payment to Blackstone.

It did not list a date for the offering. The company also did not say how many shares would be sold, or for how much.

The three SeaWorld theme parks are known for water shows featuring orca whales, dolphins and other animals. The company has eight other properties, including two Busch Gardens parks and Sesame Place, which is based on the children's TV show Sesame Street.

SeaWorld said about 24 million people went to its parks in the 12 months through Sept. 30.

In the first nine months of this year, it earned $86.2 million, up 73 per cent from $50 million in the same months a year ago. Revenue rose 7.6 per cent to $1.16 billion.

SeaWorld plans to use the "SEAS" symbol for its stock, but did not say on which exchange it plans to trade.

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