After the InBev buyout of Anheuser-Busch on Monday, there has been speculation that the new owners will start cutting costs. Some of A-B’s least profitable and most irrelevant holdings are the 10 theme parks it operates.
With options ranging from Sea World to Busch Gardens to Sesame Place, these may be the first casualties in InBev CEO Carlos Brito’s slash and burn cost-cutting techniques. Furthermore, with the American dollar being so weak right now, purchases like this look like great buys on the cheap for foreign investors.
A recent article in Forbes magazine puts a nice price tag on the theme park bundle sale:
"I think if there were to be a buyer for the parks, it might come from overseas. There are some deep-pocketed players overseas," said Paul Ruben, North American editor for the England-based Park World Trade Magazine. He estimated Anheuser-Busch’s entertainment division would fetch between $4 billion and $5 billion if sold.
InBev has not yet said what parts of Anheuser-Busch it considers non-core. Anheuser-Busch’s operations are broad, including a packaging division, grain elevators and factories that make bottles and cans.
I have a hunch that if it comes down to saving ‘bottle and grain production’ or ‘Shamu and Big Bird’, there will be poultry and fish blood on InBev’s hands.
However, a word of advice I will offer for InBev – try to combine the park themes with your alcohol empire in some sort of Jones Soda-style disgusting alcoholic drink line-up. It’s a sure-fire cross-promotional revenue producer.
Here are some can’t miss suggestions:
‘Cream of Beluga’
‘Grover’s Crunk Juice’
’40oz of Big Bird’
and my favorite – ‘Elmo Light with Lime’
Any others suggestions? We’re all ears in the comments section.
Forbes: Can InBev Sell Anheuser-Busch Theme Parks?, July 15, 2008