Explaining Southern California's economy

Shamu goes public: Could SeaWorld's IPO retire a whale of debt?

Baby Killer Whale Born At SeaWorld San Diego

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A mother and baby orcas, also called killer whales, swim at Sea World in San Diego. The company just filed for a $100 million IPO, much of which may go to put a dent in $1.7 billion of debt.

Last week, SeaWorld and its iconic orcas filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. It's fair to call this the "Shamu IPO," even though the original Shamu, who performed at the original SeaWorld in San Diego, died in 1971. SeaWorld has kept the moniker around as a sort of branded stage name for orcas.

SeaWorld also operates marine-based theme parks in Orlando, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas; the parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, runs eight other venues in the U.S. And that parent company is owned by Blackstone, a huge private equity firm that bought SeaWord from Anheuser-Busch in 2009.

(Blackstone, with another aspect of its business, also managed the sale of the Dodgers last year and is currently involved with the sale of sports and entertainment colossus AEG.)

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After Fender canceled its IPO, will Carl's Jr.'s hold up?

Will this be another Fender? Or will private equity make it to the IPO finish line?

There's still an IPO market out there, folks, even after Facebook's train wreck with the public-offering process (and subsequent struggles with the stock market). Apollo Global Management, the private-equity group that owns, through an affiliate, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent CKE has just priced an IPO for the company at between $14 and $16 a share, according to LATimes.

Apollo took CKE private in 2010 for about $700 billion and plans to sell 13.3 million shares, which would raise somewhat less than the $230 million than Reuters reported on back in June, a month after CKE filed its IPO plans with the SEC with the intention of raising $100 million. It appears that the so-called "road show" for CKE, when investment bankers including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs drum up investors, has attracted more interest in the Southern California-based company than was originally expected.

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Fender IPO shows how much private equity loves the guitar world

Les Paul

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Leo Fender gifted this Fender guitar to Les Paul in 1951. The legendary guitar maker has just priced its IPO.

Fender, the legendary guitar maker — around since the 1940s! — filed for an IPO earlier this year and has now priced the offering: between $13 and $15 per share. The company will raise about $160 million, says the LA Times. This is actually less than the company expected to raise when it filed back in March and could reflect an overall pullback in the IPO market, after Facebook's disappointing debut.

The goal for Fender remains the same: pay off debt. It has $246 million, and according to Businessweek, it wants to shed half of that. Boston-based Weston Presidio owns 43 percent of Fender and will see a $50 million payday from the IPO:

Analysts would ordinarily be skeptical of a company that’s going public to help balance its books. Investors prefer companies with clear plans to expand; they don’t usually want to help pay for acquisitions and debts already undertaken. But Fender has something going for it that very few others possess: It’s an iconic brand people truly love.

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