Blackstone sells remaining stake in SeaWorld

The firm sold its 21% stake in the company, which went public in 2013, to Chinese investors.

Blackstone has sold its remaining stake in publicly-traded SeaWorld Entertainment Incorporated to an affiliate of Zhonghong Zhuoye Group for $23 a share, or about $449 million.

The affiliate, Sun Wise, is acquiring about 21 percent of all outstanding common stock. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter.

Blackstone and co-investors will eventually receive a 2.7x return on their initial investments, according to a person familiar with transaction.

As part of the transaction, Peter Wallace, a senior managing director at Blackstone, will step down from SeaWorld's board.

Blackstone and co-investors purchased SeaWorld in 2009 from Anheuser-Busch Company, investing out of Blackstone Capital Partners V. They took the company public in early 2013 and as of December 2014 owned nearly 22 percent of total common stock.

The SeaWorld brand suffered from a controversy surrounding killer whales, which were featured in a 2013 documentary called Blackfish and which were kept at SeaWorld park for decades. The company's stock as well as attendance at the parks fell as a result of the movie, and SeaWorld eventually changed its breeding policies and shows.

Blackstone was not available to comment.