Report says Blackstone closer on AB InBev deal -

Report says Blackstone closer on AB InBev deal

NEW YORK (AP) -- Private equity firm Blackstone Group is close to sealing a deal to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev's theme parks unit, including such notable parks as SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, according to a media report Friday.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported that the New York-based firm could buy the theme parks operated under the Busch Entertainment unit next week in a transaction worth between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

Spokesmen for Anheuser-Busch InBev and Blackstone declined to comment.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has been shedding assets to help pay for the $52 billion deal last year in which Belgium-based InBev bought St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch to create the world's largest brewer, known for beers from Bud Light to Beck's.

At the time, InBev said it would shed $7 billion in noncore assets to help pay for the purchase.

The Journal first reported on a possible purchase of the parks by Blackstone last week.

Blackstone's other investments include Universal Studios Orlando and Madame Tussauds wax museums, so Anheuser-Busch InBev's parks would fit into its portfolio.

Anheuser-Busch InBev owns 10 amusement parks in total, including three SeaWorlds, two Busch Gardens and such other parks as Sesame Place and Adventure Island, according to its Web site.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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