SANDUSKY, Ohio (

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Cedar Fair

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, an operator of amusement parks that saw a large drop off in visitors because of the tough economy, will be acquired by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management for about $2.4 billion.

Cedar Fair shareholders will receive 11.50 a share, a 27% premium to Cedar Fair's closing stock price Wednesday of $9.08.

"We have considered a wide range of strategic alternatives over the past several years. After considering these strategic alternatives, we have concluded that the transaction with Apollo is in the best interest of our unit holders," said Cedar Fair Chairman and CEO Dick Kinzel, in a statement.

Cedar Fair owns and operates 11 amusement parks, as well as water parks and hotels.

The deal is expected to close at the start of the second quarter next year.

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