(AP) SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.'s stock surged Friday in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The owner of theme parks famous for water shows featuring killer whales and dolphins rose $4.06, or 15 percent, to $31.06 in morning trading after rising as high as $31.48 earlier.
The initial public offering of 26 million shares was priced at $27 per share, which was at the high end of the expected range of $24 to $27 per share.
The IPO's size also increased from the 20 million shares that SeaWorld and its owner, private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, had hoped to sell.
SeaWorld is offering 10 million shares, while Blackstone is offering 16 million shares. The banks managing the deal could also buy another 3.9 million shares, which would raise total proceeds of the deal.
SeaWorld and its backers raised $702 million in the IPO.
SeaWorld will receive about $245.4 million in net proceeds, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. The company won't receive any proceeds from shares sold by Blackstone, which bought it in 2009 for $2.3 billion. Blackstone will still have a majority stake in SeaWorld after the IPO.
SeaWorld plans to use part of the net proceeds to redeem $140 million senior notes due 2016 and to pay back $37 million of a senior secured term loan. It will use approximately $47 million to make a one-time payment to a Blackstone affiliate related to the termination of a management advisory agreement.
Besides the three SeaWorld parks, the company owns two Busch Gardens parks, several water parks and Sesame Place, an amusement park based on the children's TV show Sesame Street. It had net income of $77.4 million on revenue of $1.42 billion in 2012.
The stock is trading under the "SEAS" ticker symbol.
The offering is expected to close on Wednesday.