New York-based investment company Blackstone Real Estate Partners said it is acquiring a controlling interest in Chicago-based Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., the parent company of Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee.
Financial terms were not announced, but the transaction will give Blackstone a 65 percent stake in the entertainment water park chain, which owns 18 resorts around the U.S. Great Wolf's current owner, Centerbridge Partners, L.P., and Blackstone will form a new $2.9 billion joint venture to own the company, the companies said in a release.
Great Wolf Resorts CEO Murray Hennessy said the partnership will "further expand the Great Wolf brand with the development of new resorts and enhancements to our renowned immersive family experiences."
Tyler Henritze, head of U.S. acquisitions for Blackstone Real Estate, said the firm has been impressed "by the evolution and growth of the company under Centerbridge's ownership.
"With the leadership of its talented management team, Great Wolf has enriched the guest experience and opened seven new lodges since 2015," Henritze said.
In addition to the 18 water park resorts it currently operates Great Wolf is building a new resort in northern California that is scheduled to open in 2020, and plans on further expansions. The company employs more than 6,000 people.
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. were the financial advisors to Great Wolf, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal counsel to Great Wolf. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLC is serving as legal counsel to Blackstone.