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Blackstone, Vampire Squid Sucking Life From SeaWorld: Street Whispers

So who owns SeaWorld and all its confusing chain of subsidiaries? Lots of shell companies, most of which have the word Cayman in the title, except for the one that has Delaware in the title.

But my favorite of the three sentences is the simplest: "we refer to this acquisition and related financing transactions as the '2009 Transactions.'"

What related financing transactions? They are apparently on equal par with the acquisition since after that point, the prospectus refers repeatedly, not to the acquisition, but to the "2009 Transactions."

They may be buried somewhere amid all the other information in the prospectus, but they are undoubtedly far more complex than the simple notion that "Blackstone bought SeaWorld," which is the only information that a casual reader of business news is likely to have any hope of retaining. Who knows what unknown land-mines and special favors are in the heart of those "2009 transactions?"

And by the way, since Goldman Sachs may be conflicted as a co-lead underwriter of the IPO, it is supposedly being supervised by Citigroup (C). Everywhere you look in the prospectus, there are slimy little sea-nuggets of this sort.

Again, there's little that's unique to SeaWorld about these issues. Similar points could be raised about any one of Blackstone's portfolio companies, or many others owned by private equity giants such as Fortress Investment Group (C), Carlyle Group (CG - Get Report) or KKR (KKR - Get Report).

These corporate kleptomaniacs, run mostly by old hands who worked for some earlier incarnation of all the banks we bailed out in 2008 and 2009, are likely to become increasingly important in the coming years. That's because they have escaped much of the regulation aimed at preventing future bank bailouts.

Imagine the world were a swimming pool and 1000 killer whales peed in it all all at once. A routine deal for Blackstone is at least that toxic. So, routine or not, as Arthur Miller once wrote when telling a very different kind of "routine" story about a mediocre salesman: attention must be paid.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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