Merlin, which has been seeking to expand overseas to offset a slide in day trippers visiting London, previously approached SeaWorld about a potential transaction, people familiar with the matter said last week. The U.K. company, which operates Madame Tussauds wax museums and the London Eye Ferris wheel, was said to be interested in SeaWorld’s Busch Gardens theme parks.
“We can confirm that Merlin is not involved in any discussions that might lead to an acquisition of SeaWorld or any of its constituent parts,” Merlin said in a statement, responding to a request for comment from Bloomberg News.
Merlin shares fell as much as 1.1 percent Wednesday in London.
SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby has been struggling to stem declines in sales and the stock price of the Orlando, Florida-based park owner once famous for its killer whales. The company, valued at $1.2 billion, counts Chinese leisure firm Zhonghong Zhuoye Group as its biggest shareholder, with a 21 percent stake.
Spanish theme-park operator Parques Reunidos Servicios Centrales SA is among the potential buyers of SeaWorld, people familiar with the matter said this week.
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