NBCUniversal to buy Blackstone’s interest in Universal Orlando for $1 billion

MUMBAI: NBCUniversal and The Blackstone Group have entered into an agreement under which NBCUniversal will purchase The Blackstone Group’s 50% interest in Universal Orlando.

The purchase price for Blackstone’s interest is $1.025 billion, subject to various purchase price adjustments. The enterprise value of this transaction is $3.165 billion and it is expected to close on 1 July, 2011. Following the closing, NBCUniversal and its affiliates will own 100% of Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk which are located at Universal Orlando.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said, “The acquisition consolidates our ownership and confirms our long-term commitment to Universal Orlando and the theme park business. Universal Orlando is a consistent and significant driver of operating and free cash flow and is performing extremely well. It has a superb management team and exciting growth opportunities. This purchase of the Blackstone interest is attractively valued and represents strong financial returns for NBCUniversal.”

“We are proud of the extraordinary growth and success that Universal Orlando experienced during our eleven years of ownership. Throughout this period we have been committed to investing for long-term growth in partnership with the Company’s management and NBCUniversal, and we are gratified with the results of this strategy,” said Blackstone senior managing director Michael Chae.

The purchase price for Blackstone’s Universal Orlando interest will be funded with cash on hand at NBCUniversal, borrowings under NBCUniversal’s existing revolving credit facility and a one-year $400 million note to NBCUniversal from an affiliate of Comcast Corporation.

Universal’s next major new attraction will be based on Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s blockbuster 3-D-CGI feature Despicable Me.

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