Comcast to Buy Blackstone’s Stake in Universal’s Orlando Parks (Exclusive)

Private equity firm wants out of the Florida theme park, and thanks to the success of the Harry Potter ride will get its wish

EXCLUSIVE

Comcast intends to buy Blackstone Group’s 50 percent stake in its two Orlando theme parks,  TheWrap has learned.

Comcast is expected to pay between $1 billion to $1.5 billion to become the full owner of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, according to an individual with knowledge of the deal.

The deal must be finalized by June 12 in order to prevent Blackstone from shopping the property elsewhere.

The Comcast board has not yet approved the purchase, but is expected to do so, according to the knowledgeable individual.

A spokesman for Comcast had no comment when reached by TheWrap. A representative for Blackstone did not respond to a request for comment.

A filing in March by Blackstone, one of the world's largest private equity firms with assets of $18 billion, revealed that it was shopping its stake in the two Orlando parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Analysts have previously speculated that the Orlando-based theme park could cost NBC-Universal’s new corporate parent on the order of $1.55 billion.

Though Comcast has had to make the decision less than six months after taking over the property with its acquisition of NBC Universal, the theme park has been performing exceedingly well. 

Thanks largely to the success of a new ride in 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, revenues at the theme park increased over 40 percent to $1.1 billion last year, according to public filings.

During Comcast’s first quarter controlling NBC Universal, the theme park division grew 16 percent to $95 million.

Blackstone bought its stake for $2 billion from the Rank Group in 2000.