Feb. 27, 2018 – SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. , a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced that it is initiating a leadership transition plan. With improving operating and financial performance trends along with substantial progress in enhancing the strategic positioning of the Company’s mission-driven brand, the Company’s Board of Directors and current President and Chief Executive Officer, Joel Manby, agreed that this is the right time to identify a new CEO as the Company enters its next phase of intensified focus on execution and growth.
Under the plan, current Chief Parks Operations Officer, John T. Reilly, has become interim CEO succeeding Mr. Manby, who has stepped down. Current Chairman of the Board Yoshikazu Maruyama – a 22-year veteran of the global theme park and entertainment industry – has become interim Executive Chairman until a permanent CEO is appointed by the Board, at which time Mr. Maruyama will resume his position as Chairman of the Board of Directors. These changes are effective immediately. Mr. Manby has agreed to assist the Company to ensure a smooth transition.
Donald C. Robinson, Lead Independent Director, said, “The Board agreed that this transition plan is the right approach to advance the Company’s progress and create value for all our important stakeholders. We know John will be an excellent leader in this new role and we thank Yoshi for taking on this additional interim responsibility to ensure a smooth transition. Finally, we want to express our deep appreciation to Joel for his leadership and contributions as CEO.”
“Over the past three years, Joel has worked tirelessly to strengthen SeaWorld’s position as a company that combines entertainment, education, and its important mission to protect marine life and the oceans. Our improving fourth quarter and positive year-to-date trends give us confidence that the steps we have taken position us well for 2018,” Mr. Maruyama said.
“John Reilly is a highly experienced operator with decades of theme park experience and a demonstrated ability to improve performance and drive growth through disciplined execution. In addition to serving as Chief Parks Operations Officer, John has served as Park President of SeaWorld San Diego and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, among other roles and has been with the Company for over 32 years. He knows SeaWorld well and understands our opportunities. With one of our most compelling lineups of new rides and attractions, new pricing plans, and comprehensive new sales, marketing and communications initiatives, we are confident we will maintain and accelerate our current momentum under John’s experienced direction. The Board and I believe my industry experience complements John’s, and so I will be available to him as a resource in this interim period,” Mr. Maruyama continued.
“I am so proud of this Company and all we have accomplished to position SeaWorld for continued success by providing fun and truly meaningful experiences that connect our guests to the natural world,” said Mr. Manby. “John is an ideal choice to lead the Company, and I feel confident that I leave SeaWorld in incredibly capable hands. I look forward to continuing to work with Yoshi, John, and the entire Board during the transition.”
The Board of Directors has engaged a leading executive search firm to assist in the search for Mr. Manby’s successor.