Blackstone offers to sell half of Universal Orlando to NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal already owns half of the attraction. If it balks at buying Blackstone's half, the entire Orlando operation could be offered for sale to a third party.
Private-equity giant The Blackstone Group is looking to unload its stake in Universal Orlando, triggering a chain of events that could ultimately put the entire resort — which is in the midst of its most impressive financial run ever — on the auction block.
Blackstone has offered to sell its half of the resort to fellow co-owner NBCUniversal, the media-and-entertainment conglomerate that was acquired in January by Comcast Corp.
NBCUniversal now has three months — until June 12 — to accept the offer and buy out the private-equity firm. If NBCUniversal turns Blackstone down, it will trigger a provision allowing Blackstone to seek out an outside bidder to buy the entire resort.
A sale could have huge implications for Universal Orlando. Some of the resort's most important licensing contracts — including its agreement with Warner Bros. for the rights to Harry Potter — include provisions in which Universal could lose those rights if it is acquired by a new owner.
The resort could even lose the right to the name "Universal," although any sale would almost certainly only happen if the new buyer had assurances that Universal would maintain the rights to intellectual properties such as Potter.
Read the full story here.