SeaWorld CEO Steps Down as Theme Park’s Financial Woes Continue

Photo: Orlando Informer

The CEO of SeaWorld has stepped after only five months on the job. Sergio Rivera has stepped down effective immediately as the company struggles financially with the forced shutdown due to COVID-19.

Rivera had just joined Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment in November — shortly after the abrupt departure of his predecessor Gus Antorcha earlier in the year after he served just seven months with the company after “disagreements” with the company’s board.

Rivera’s reason for departure was similar, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“Mr. Rivera informed the company that his resignation was due to disagreements over the board’s involvement in the decision making at the company.”

SeaWorld CFO and Treasurer Marc Swanson has been named interim CEO. Chief Accounting Officer Elizabeth Castro Gulacsy has been named interim CFO and treasurer, while Chief Strategy Officer Walter Bogumil has been named COO.

The sudden resignation comes after SeaWorld had let go over 90% of their staff due to park closures.

The COVID-19 shutdown may be hastening the inevitable for the company, as it’s been struggling financially for years.

Close followers of SeaWorld always feared the company’s financial struggles would attract an outside buyer. But right now, a complete takeover is unlikely, experts agreed. That’s because market conditions are not conducive to taking on new companies right now — especially those as deeply troubled as SeaWorld, industry experts said.

And the furlough news shows just how vulnerable SeaWorld is right now. “They showed what they had to do to stay alive as a business,” said tourism industry expert Duncan Dickson, principal of human resources consulting firm A&D Partners. “They are hemorrhaging money.”

There is currently no opening date in sight for SeaWorld, Disney or Universal as Florida has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. It’s likely that SeaWorld won’t weather the storm as well as Disney or Universal, who has other business ventures besides theme parks.

More on this as we hear it.

[Source: Orlando Business Journal]

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