SeaWorld Taps New CEO – WSJ

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SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.


SEAS 11.98%

has tapped a timeshare resort executive as its new chief executive.

The theme-park company, which runs SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, on Thursday named

Sergio Rivera,

the former president and chief executive of ILG Inc.’s vacation-ownership segment, as its new leader. He starts Nov. 11.

Gustavo Antorcha

resigned from the SeaWorld CEO position in September, seven months after taking the helm at the Orlando, Fla., company. Finance Chief

Marc Swanson

currently serves as the company’s interim chief executive.

Shares of SeaWorld rose 11.4% in midday trading Thursday.

Mr. Rivera took the helm of ILG’s timeshare business in November 2016. ILG, which was the global licensee for timeshares with Hyatt, Sheraton and Westin brands, was acquired by

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp.


VAC -0.34%

in late 2018.

Before ILG, Mr. Rivera worked for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. as the president of its Americas division.

In a conference call with analysts on Thursday, Mr. Rivera said that SeaWorld has made good progress.

“But we know there’s a lot more to do to unlock the long-term potential of this business,” Mr. Rivera said.

With the appointment of Mr. Rivera, Mr. Swanson will return to his role as finance chief.

Elizabeth Castro Gulacsy,

who has been interim finance chief, will return to her role as chief accounting officer, the company said.

SeaWorld also appointed Neha Jogani Narang to its board, effective Nov. 11. Ms. Narang was the director of consumer and developer marketing for Facebook Inc. Mr. Rivera and Ms. Narang’s participation in the board will increase its size to nine members.

SeaWorld has dealt with a spate of leadership changes in the past few years.

In February 2018, CEO

Joel Manby

stepped down, as attendance fell and its losses widened. The company then appointed SeaWorld Chief Parks Operations Officer John Reilly, who had been with the company for more than 30 years, as interim CEO. Mr. Reilly resigned from the company in March.

James Atchison, who resigned as chief executive of SeaWorld in 2014, last year settled for more than $1 million with the Securities and Exchange Commission on charges that he wasn’t up front with investors about the impact that a critical documentary film would have on the company’s business. SeaWorld agreed to pay a $4 million penalty for its role in the matter.

Separately, SeaWorld reported a third-quarter profit of $1.24 a share on sales of $473.7 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.41 a share and sales of $489.8 million.

Write to Dave Sebastian at [email protected]

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