Comcast’s NBCUniversal Plans to Acquire Full Control of Orlando Theme Parks Venture

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A deal to buy private equity firm Blackstone Group’s 50 percent stake could cost up to $1.5 billion.

NEW YORK – Comcast-controlled NBCUniversal is planning to acquire private equity firm Blackstone Group’s 50 percent stake in two Orlando theme parks, a source said Tuesday.

The company has until June 12 to make a decision as it has the right of first refusal. If it decided not to buy in the other 50 percent stake, Blackstone can approach other parties.

The source confirmed a report that said that cable giant Comcast’s board has not yet formally approved a deal, but is expected to do so and pay $1 billion-$1.5 billion.

An NBCUniversal spokesman declined comment. A Blackstone representative couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Wall Street observers have previously said that Comcast, which in late January acquired a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal, could pay around $1.5 billion for full control of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Blackstone had acquired its stake in 2000 for $2 billion.

Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis last week had said that a decision on the Orlando theme parks venture will come in the next few weeks, but he had signaled a potential deal to buy the rest as he had lauded the theme parks business as being "good."

He has also said that new King Kong and Harry Potter attractions are "absolute home runs," that the NBCUniversal theme parks business is well managed and that it is "very profitable.”

News of the deal was first reported by the website thewrap.com.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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